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GPs go forth

PMS practice suffering £400k cuts to be taken over by Virgin Care

A practice losing £400,000 worth of funding in its PMS contract review is to be taken over by Virgin Care.

As revealed by Pulse, all of the partners at the 'outstanding'-rated Sutherland Lodge Surgery in Chelmsford, Essex, opted to resign in light of the PMS review concluding that practice funding should reduce by 30% in two years.

NHS England said Virgin Care will take on the contract for the 12,000-patient practice from 1 July, while the premises are 'being purchased by a property investment company' acting as landlord.

The practice, which has existed for 110 years and is one of the largest in Chelmsford, will remain at the same site.

NHS England said that although the change may be 'unsettling' for some patients, Virgin Care has a 'strong track record' of delivering GP services.

A spokesperson said: 'We are pleased to announce that Virgin Care Services has been identified as the preferred bidder to provide medical services for GP registered patients from the Sutherland Lodge Surgery from Friday 1 July 2016.

'We are aware that this change of provider may be unsettling for patients, some of whom have been with the practice for many years, and we are working with the existing practice staff to ensure there will be minimal disruption to patients’ medical services during the transition and they will continue to have access to the same services as they do currently.'

Three of the four partners resigning the contract will continue working as locum or part-time GPs in the local area but none will continue working for the new contract-holder.

In a message to patients published on the practice website, the partners asked patients to bear with the remaining support staff while they got used to the 'quite different' version of the practice.

They added: 'We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your kind thoughts and sterling support during these past six months. We had hoped to all be retiring from here as a natural process, but as you are aware this is not to be the case.'

NHS England said it will be writing to patients to confirm the change.

Readers' comments (14)

  • any idea how much funding per patient compared to outgoing partners?

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  • Just FOI'd the cost of procuring the service too.

    I hope practices round the country will express to the information commissioner and their MPs their concerns, and raise as a matter of vital public interest the necessity that the costs of the contract itself are released into the public domain, despite the obvious 'commercially sensitive' objection that will be used to avoid releasing this information under FOI.

    Find your MP Here:

    Chand et al - PLEASE NOTE AND MAKE SOME NOISE. If you can't speak out on THIS, forget it.

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  • Suggested wording for an email to your MP:

    Sutherland Lodge practice, recently rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, and having served its community for 110 years, was forced to return its contract to NHS England when a review of its Primary Medical Services contract reduced funding by £400k per year. The service has since been retendered, and won by VirginCare, who will commence the contract on 1st July. The cost point of this new contract has been FOI’d by the industry press, and understandably refused under commercial sensitivity grounds. However, I think the precedent of this process for NHS services, and the confidence of the public in the Government’s promises not to privatise the NHS are issues of national importance. If it were revealed that the proposed savings indicated by the review of the PMS contract were all lost by the reprocurement, it would indicate both that unnecessary harm had been caused to the stability of local services, patients and to the current NHS approach. As such I write to ask that you intervene in requesting this information is made available to the public in order to safeguard GP services everywhere, and to restore confidence in the enduring support for our NHS.

    Regardless of your views of the PMS/GMS/APMS splits folks, if your contract can be awarded at higher cost to a private company, this is an issue for us all.


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  • Cobblers

    As the previous two posters say. It comes, as always, down to money. If as a result of a PMS review said practice was unviable under GMS funding then sure as eggs is eggs you can be sure that Virgin would be unviable too. It then becomes a political priority to get anyone, someone, except GPs, to do it and no doubt Virgin will be getting PMS+ prices.

    FOI will be refused on basis of business confidentiality or delayed until it is no longer a political problem.

    Cynic moi?

    Am out of it soon. Rest of you should consider your position. Freelance locum or GP Chambers look good options.

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  • In 2011, I was refused information about price per patient to local APMS Providers after having an APMS thrust on me in place of my GMS. The rate given to me was basic GMS rate of 62 pound per patient and my MPIG of 24K was linked to KPIs more stringent than any other APMS Provider had.
    Didn't change a thing when I got and displayed information through FOI which revealed local APMS Providers were getting up to £250 per patient and also additional min of 67k for KPIs. Their KPIs were kid's stuff as compared to what I was expected to achieve.
    Corruption thy name is NHSE. Welcome to Medway.

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  • scandalous and upsetting.

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  • And so it begins. What's the college and GPC doing about the privatisation of general practice?

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  • Bob Hodges

    " Virgin Care has a 'strong track record' of delivering GP services"


    Don't go to Lyme Regis then, the patients may have a different opinion.

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  • Would love to know if there will be any quality checks.

    As usual there will be less doctors and clings, less appointments more patients going to AE and more referrals

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  • My company would have fancied running this practice. Can NHS England confirm they followed national guidance as I don't recall this being out for tender? I suspect the 5 year contract is over the normal €750,000 threshold.

    Many other companies bar Virgin could have ran this practice. It should have been put out for tender IMO.

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