More than 200 GP practices closed on merged in England last year, while just eight new practices opened.
Mergers were once the exception, created as a result of retirements or consolidation of smaller practices often run by single-handed GPs. But mergers are becoming more common as the pressures on general practice increase. Creating a larger practice is now often seen as the only way to survive the inexorable rise in demand coupled with the squeeze on practice finances.
NHS Digital has published annual patient-led assessments of non-clinical elements of care such as food and waiting areas.
Now in their fifth year, patient-led assessments of the care environment (PLACE) involve teams going into NHS and private/independent hospitals to assess how the environment supports the provision of clinical care.
This assessment focuses particularly on issues of access such as wheelchairs, mobility and signage, as well as provision of visual/audible appointment alert systems and hearing loops.
Between January 2016 and April 2017, local Healthwatch staff and volunteers across England visited 197 care homes across 63 different local authority areas to find out what day to day life is really like for many of those living in care homes. This report summarises what people told local Healthwatch and common issues that need to improve.