GP surgery closures

Posted in: General Information 6th June 2019

As reported recently, in the last six years, nearly 600 GP surgeries have closed, affecting almost two million patients. The closures have been blamed on underfunding, under resourcing and an ongoing recruitment crisis.

Here, Oliver Pittock, managing director of healthcare consumables supplier Valley Northern, comments.

The coming years will be crucial for the NHS. It’s been suggested that in the next five years, the NHS could be short of 7,000 GP’s if the budget for training and development is not increased to at least £900 million.

With the sector under increasing strain, patients need to be further encouraged into using their local pharmacy as a source of medical information and advice.

In 2018, the NHS launched the ‘Stay Well Pharmacy’ campaign, which aimed to encourage people to visit a pharmacy first, before visiting a doctor for minor health concerns such as sore throats, coughs and colds. According to the NHS, the key message of the campaign was to highlight that community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are qualified healthcare professionals that are trained in managing minor illness, can assess symptoms and offer medical advice and support.

However, pharmacies are still a neglected resource of healthcare and GP closures could be reduced if people didn’t rely so heavily on their doctors for trivial illnesses that could be treated by visiting their local pharmacist.

The preconception by the public that pharmacists aren’t as qualified as doctors and therefore, cannot provide the same medical advice and support is false.

As a result, the NHS should continue to raise awareness and educate the public of the benefits that pharmacists can provide.

If more people considered their local pharmacy before their doctors, it could spread the demand of patients across other healthcare resources, lower the pressure that the NHS is faced with, and ultimately, reduce the number of closing surgeries.

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