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GPs predict mass branch surgery closures

The new contract would bring about a mass closure of branch surgeries because of its demands on premises standards, GPs have predicted.

Branch surgeries would have to meet the same criteria as main sites, including compliance with disability discrimination laws, to qualify for primary care organisation funding.

They would also have to stay open 20 hours a week and deliver essential and additional services to qualify for the funds and PCO cash for computer equipment.

GPs said PCOs would not want to cover the cost of bringing many branch surgeries up to scratch and practices would not keep the sites open without reimbursement.

Dr Russell Walshaw, a member of the GPC practice premises subcommittee, said it was the opportunity many GPs had been waiting for to close their branch site.

'Most practices that have branch surgeries do say it's a millstone around their neck,' he said. 'This may have the effect of making some GPs consider their options. If you are only running five hours a week it's not a proper medical service or modern medicine.'

Dr Walshaw, who is also chair of the GPC rural practices subcommittee, said GPs in urban areas as well as rural practices would look to close their branches.

Dr Phil Dommett, vice chair of Cornwall and Scilly Isles LMC, said he operates two branch surgeries and the contract was a threat to both.

'One is open four times a week for half a day the other three hours a week, so they and many other surgeries in Cornwall could fall foul of the rules,' he said.

He added: 'Those of us with this type of arrangement could be at a big disadvantage.

Would you close your branch surgery?

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