Ten GP practices closed in Northumberland over last decade, new figures show

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Northumberland has lost 10 GP practices in the past 10 years – and those that are left are having to deal with thousands more patients, new figures have revealed.

The county currently has 36 practices operating 61 sites, 10 less than in 2013/14, while those practices serve 333,900 patients – an increase of 12,000 since the same period.

The figures, presented to Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board, also stated 75% of surgeries were more than 30 years old, with the estate described by the NHS as ‘stressed’.

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A maintenance backlog of £250,000 has also been identified, while 68% of surgeries are deemed as undersized.

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington.Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington.
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington.

Despite this, board members were told NHS staff across Northumberland were actually delivering more appointments than pre-Covid. However, demand has also risen significantly.

The figures were presented as part of a drive to improve patient experience.

Pamela Phelps, senior head of commissioning primary care at the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said: “Understanding the needs is very much at the heart of what we do.

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“We do get a lot of complaints, but we also get a lot of compliments as well. We’re providing more appointments than ever before but patient satisfaction isn’t as high as it should be, so this should stay at the top of the agenda.”

Hilary Snowdon, of the Local Medical Committee, said patient experience was “at the heart” of primary care.

She added: “It’s not just about patients being care for by their GP, but by their primary care team including nurses and physiotherapists.

“We are working with colleagues to understand demand.”