According to a report*, it looks like it’s all doom and gloom for GP surgeries in Devon with the closure of three practices and 12 mergers.
The same report, which covered the period between July 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017, has shown the number of patients registered with a GP in Devon grew by 15,413 to a total of 1.2 million.
In North, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon, there are 8,615 patients per surgery in the area, up from 7,919. In South Devon and Torbay, there is an average of 10,111 patients per surgery, up from 8,777 per surgery a year earlier.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Unfortunately, these situations are often the by-product of the overall state of general practice and the pressures currently facing our profession – in a snapshot, chronic underfunding, a depleted workforce, and severe lack of resources.
“This is, of course, not always the case, and some practices might proactively decide to merge with another surgery in order to pool their resources to allow them to provide additional services for patients or better appointment access for the community.”
On a nationwide scale, 280 GP practices closed or were merged between July 2016 and December 2017, according to data from NHS Digital.
This is why we have seen such an increased uptake in our general practice cloud-hosted telephony solution. Whether they have chosen to merge or have been forced into it, we can help link surgeries together using cost-effective technology.
The general practice landscape is clearly changing and GP surgeries need to find ways of adapting. Single practices with standalone telephone systems that do not have enough lines or staff to answer calls have to be relics of the past.
Cloud-hosted telephone solutions easily link multiple sites which means staff resources can be shared at the busiest times. Calls to UK landlines and mobiles are free, which will be a welcome cost relief when so many surgeries now engage in daily telephone consultations. Line rental costs are less too.
I have spoken to many GP surgeries in Devon, Cornwall and beyond and have been able to find a cost-saving solution for 90 per cent of these. I am trying to help general practice find a positive way forward in challenging times.
We can integrate these cloud-hosted telephony solutions with existing GP systems, such as EMIS, SystmOne and Patient Partner, which will give a boost to QOF points and funding too.
General practice mergers are ongoing and more are probable, if your GP surgery needs some advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Meanwhile, you may wish to read my blog on general practice telephony to survive tough times.