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18,000-patient GP practice set to close

A health board has to find new GP services for 18,000 patients after a large practice handed in its contract due to severe recruitment problems.

The Pendyffryn Medical Group has given the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board six months’ notice that they will be terminating the contract effective 31 March 2016.

A joint statement from the practice and the health board said they would work together to plan how patients would continue to get access to GP services from April onwards.

The statement said: ’The health board is responsible for making sure that people in North Wales have access to these services. It is therefore working closely with Pendyffryn Medical Practice to plan how their patients will continue to get the local services that they need from April 2016 onwards.

’Over the next six months, we will keep patients and other members of the local population informed of our progress, and will respond to any concerns and questions. We will also work together to support all the staff in the practice and ensure that they are kept up-to-date and understand the new arrangements that are being put in place.’

Clare Darlington, head of primary care and commissioning for the central area within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board told Pulse that the 18,000-patient practice currently has six GP partners, three of which are part time, and one salaried GP.

Regarding the closure, she added: ‘This is due to a number of retirements, workload pressures and their inability to recruit GPs.’

Dr Eamonn Jessup, a partner at the practice and chair of North Wales LMC, told the BBC that it has been ‘practically begging’ GPs to come work for the practice but that it ‘can’t find anyone’.

He told Pulse last year that the practice had spent spent ‘thousands’ on advertising posts, and it had to target MPIG-affected practices in England to try and attract candidates.

Wales LMC deputy chair Dr David Bailey said it was ’unquestionably the largest closure in Wales and one of the largest in the UK’. He added that some of the partners have agreed to consider working as salaried GPs for the health board when it takes over the running of the practice, but said similar arrangements have hiked costs in the past.

He said: ’They have been trying for some time to recruit and have failed to do so over twelve months or more. The health board will take over running and some of the partners have agreed to consider salaried working for the health board.

’Previous experience of LHB managed practices in North Wales suggests that costs will increase by about £30 per patient.’

The announcement comes just weeks after the Welsh Government wrote to all GP practices to invite them to bid for support if they considered themselves vulnerable to closure.

The sustainability scheme, negotiatated as part of the two-year 2015-17 GP contract, focuses mainly on practical rather than financial support however will draw on the £34m announced to alleviate the Welsh GP recruitment crisis.

The Wales deanery has recruited 107 GP trainees this year but Pulse understands some 190 would be needed to meet expected future demand.

Meanwhile some 2,500 patients are set to lose their local practice when the Nantyffyllon Surgery, based in Maesteg in south Wales, closes on 1 October, after a health board was unable to attract a single applicant to take on the contract.

They are the latest in a string of closures caused by the UK-wide recruitment crisis which Pulse has revealed has seen more than 160,000 patients displaced across the UK in just two years.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Quite sad, though Hunt and Cameron are raising glassess and now on the line to let Obama know of their success in implementing 'Amercian style governance'
    Wales might want to go the Scotland way for a referendum before Westminster ruins lives.

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  • I suppose we could all stand behind this practice and support them with mass resignation from the contract; unless real investment in primary care and real action taken on the recruitment and GP training issues are delivered.

    Or we could sit back and watch as practices are picked off one by one.

    At least North Wales isn't far from Manchester - the patients won't have far to travel to access best in the world models of 24hr 7 day a week primary care.

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  • *unt -resign now
    You are presiding over the catastrophe of your making
    Put an end to your farcical incompetence ...before you destroy more
    Your grotesque failure will be long remembered in infamy
    And please at least stop wearing your pretentious nhs badge ... The apotheosis of naked shameful hypocrisy

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  • 18000 pt practice - big dominoes starting to fall now, not just retiring single handers.

    How much longer can JH and Porky lover stick their heads in the sand and push their 7 day agenda.

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  • Great time to cut GP trainees salaries - you almost think DOH wants Primary Care/NHS to fail!

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  • Unless im reading this wrong - "they" are admitting that moving a GP practice run as an independent contractor to directly controlled status costs £30/pt. If this is known and believed - why are they trying to get rid of us? do they really think virgin can do it for cheaper when they cant even do it for the same price?

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner30 Sep 2015 4:51pm

    Spot on. We should all give notice today so that the new contractual year brings a whole new world. That would set the cat amongst the winged rats.

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  • Hi Everyone thanks for your comments - Yes we have been told that it is £30 extra per head for a managed practice over a GMS Independent contractor practice. I guess it might be lower than that with a larger practice and economy of scale but not by much - We really had no choice at all I am afraid. By the way ours is a very happy great partnership and currently giving great service we were not prepared to go from hideous workload to slavery.

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  • Hunt and porky will only give a **** when their own GP surgery goes tits up , oh but hang on bet they have private cover ..We shut ours earlier this year , and no one really gave a dam except the patients . Now working as a locum I see many practices on the edge of failing / handing their contract back .I think we need Ron Pickering .He would not stand for it ( Google Ron Pickering if you've not seen his road rage episode )

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  • You do the math guys.
    18000 patients 6 partners 3 part time and one salaried = more than 3000 patients for each FTE GP.
    It's unsafe and unsustainable.
    Best of luck to you guys
    There is life after partnership, and I tell you what it's much better.

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