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General Practitioners

Question for Department of Health

UIN 27432, tabled on 19 February 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what measures NHS England uses to assess GP service provision to an area.

Answered on

25 February 2016

NHS England is statutorily accountable for ensuring that patients have access to a general practitioner (GP) practice. In the event of a practice closure, NHS England will assess the need for a replacement provider before dispersing a list when a GP surgery closes. A decision to disperse a list will be made on the basis that there is capacity in neighbouring practices to absorb the additional patient numbers.

To assess GP service provision in an area, NHS England works with the Care Quality Commission and local clinical commissioning groups. The Primary Care Outcomes Framework is published nationally and is derived from data submitted by individual practices on service levels and outcomes alongside national patient survey data on patient satisfaction. In terms of overall strategy, the provision of primary care will be part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) which is published in each local authority area and reported through the local Health & Well-being Board. The JSNA will identify any gaps and risks in the provision of primary care to the local population which, in turn, will then inform commissioning strategies for that area.

There is no national guidance on the ratio of patients to doctors in GP practices. In recent years, the development of the wider primary care teams (with nurses, healthcare assistants, pharmacists and therapists) means that a focus on the ratio of patients to doctors has less meaning than in previous years. The national workforce survey allows NHS England to benchmark individual practices in terms of the staffing to patient ratio.