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Alternative finance is the best medicine to mitigate the GP surgery funding crisis

Rising patient demand, cuts to funding and staff shortages are contributing to a worsening financial crisis facing GP practices which shows no signs of abating. A recent survey of 2,830 GP surgeries conducted by the BMA suggests a bleak picture, particularly for GP surgeries situated in London.

The timing of the BMA’s research announcement, made just a week before junior doctors carried out the first of three strikes (from 9 to 11 March), left little to the imagination although the published research is likely to have been timed to capitalize on increased public focus on the NHS, it reinforces the need for GP surgeries to urgently find new ways to bridge the funding drought which is threatening their existence.

The BMA’s findings highlight that almost 300 GP surgeries in England face closure because of financial pressures. In total, 294 practices out of the 2,830 surveyed admitted they were financially “unsustainable” with just one in 20 reporting that its finances were in a strong state. If this snapshot of opinion (about a third of practices in England) is representative of the situation nationally, potentially up to 800 practices could be under threat.

According to the survey, London practices are encountering the most severe economic pressures. The capital had the highest number of surgeries concerned their services were ‘unsustainable’ (14%), the largest proportion reporting their overall financial position was ‘weak’ (41%) and the lowest number stating their situation as ‘strong’ (2%).

With many GP practices struggling to obtain the resources they need, it is unsurprising that almost half (46%) said they had GPs in their workforce who were either intending to retire (37%) or leave the UK (9%). Unless their financial and work-life balance prospects improve, more GPs will leave the NHS and medical graduates will also turn their backs on their chosen profession. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Alternative finance solutions may not represent a magic wand to solve all of the challenges GP practices face today. However, they can undoubtedly make a vital difference in helping them to safeguard their future tomorrow by minimising the impact of rising practice expenses and the associated knock-on effect to GPs’ livihoods during this uncertain period.

Specialist and trusted providers, such as Wesleyan Bank, offer an extensive range of financial products and services which are specifically tailored for GPs and GP practices. These include both secure and unsecured commercial loans to quickly fund the purchase of specialist medical equipment, the latest IT software and hardware, practice refurbishments or extensions as well as boosting day-to-day cash flow requirements which can be impacted by tax payments and other one off large bills.

Specialist providers can also help to offer greater reassurance for younger GPs over job security by providing funding for partner buy ins/outs and practice acquisitions or indeed all important personal loan, saving or insurance products.

Rising patient expectations are further exacerbating workload and funding pressures which have reached intolerable levels. At a time when GPs increasingly need support, alternative finance may represent the best medicine to enable them to make repayments over time and spread the cost of mounting bills to free up vital cash in the short term.

'WESLEYAN’ is a trading name of the Wesleyan Group of companies.

Wesleyan Assurance Society and Wesleyan Bank Ltd are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd, Wesleyan Unit Trust Managers Ltd, Practice Plan Ltd and DPAS Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Advice about investments, insurance and mortgages is provided by Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd.

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