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A freedom of information request by the BBC found that at least 100 GP lists are closed, after they had applied to NHS England to stop accepting new patients in 2014/15.

At the beginning of November 2015 there were 299 surgeries on the NHS choices website that said they weren’t taking on any new patients.

NHS England said: “When we receive a request to close a GP practice list, we consider both the impact on patients as well as on neighbouring practices and services to avoid displacing a problem elsewhere.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that many surgeries were at “breaking point” as they struggle to fill staff vacancies.

The BBC learned that among 8,000 practices in England some were offering a bonus of up to £10,000 to attract new doctors.

Ranworth Surgery, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was recently offering a bonus of £9,500 after failing to attract applicants for the position.

The surgery closed its list to new patients after it reached 9,000, which it deemed unsafe.

The BBC’s analysis of the freedom of information data suggests that 46% of the 100 surgeries that applied to have their lists closed were denied permission, or withdrew their request.

The news comes as the NHS urge people to think twice about going to A&E. Evidence suggests that long weekends tend to result in a peak in demand for emergency services.

Experts believe that as people are unable to access community services, such as GP surgeries, they end up struggling through long weekends before eventually attending A&E.

A pilot study in England found that extending GP opening times reduced minor A&E visits by 15%, according to the Department of Health.

Last year saw the NHS negligence claim bill top £1bn, and findings such as these will not be reassuring to those who will be trying to reduce this cost in the future.

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