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At the heart of general practice since 1960

18,000-practice set to close as GP partners hand back contract

A practice in Oxfordshire with a list of 17,948 patients could be set to close after failing to recruit enough GPs to remain open.

Partners at the Horsefair Surgery in Banbury said in a letter to patients that it had given notice to NHS England to terminate its GMS contract after several of its GPs left due to retirement or ill health.

As a result, one branch is closing from 3 October ‘for the forseeable future’, while the partners will continue to run its other surgery until a new provider is found.

It is one of the largest practices to announce their closure, and is the second in Oxfordshire to hand its contract back within a matter of weeks.

The CCG has said ‘given the issues with recruitment and capacity’, it is running a recruitment campaign.

The three partners at the practice explained to patients in a letter on 7 September why they were handing their contract back.

They said: 'This is a letter to explain a change in the running of Horsefair Surgery. We, partner GPs, have given notice to terminate our contract to provide general medical services. As you may already know, several of our GPs have left due to retirement or ill-health.

'The practice has been working hard to recruit GPs but our efforts have been unsuccessful. We are not alone in this. Across the country GP services are under significant pressure because of rising demand and difficulties in recruitment. 

The partners said that there it would continue to provide services at its South Bar House premises in Banbury until they handed over to a new healthcare provider, but that the Middleton Cheney branch surgery from October 3 ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Julie Dandridge, deputy director & head of primary care and localities at NHS Oxfordshire CCG said: 'The challenges faced by Horsefair Surgery are similar across the county and country. Horsefair Surgery have given notice to terminate their contract. We will work with the surgery to support them while we secure a provider of GP services who will work from South Bar House and ensure a smooth handover of services when the time comes.

’Given the issues with recruitment and capacity across the county, we are looking at launching a GP recruitment campaign to encourage GPs to come to Oxfordshire to work. Similar campaigns are being run in other areas of England.”

A growing number of struggling practices are choosing to hand back their contract to NHS England due to financial or recruitment issues.

Last month, partners at the North Bicester Surgery in Oxfordshire announced that they would close the practice for good on 30 September after the withdrawal of MPIG funding made it ‘financially unviable’.

Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign

Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

Pulse has been pressing for immediate support for vulnerable practices across the UK since 2014 through its Stop Practice Closures campaign.

NHS England announced a new tranche of £16 million of funding to support struggling practices this year.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt first announced the fund in his ‘new deal’ last year, and NHS England said in December that practices with poor CQC ratings or higher-than-average referrals and prescribing would be prioritised.

But Pulse has revealed that practices are still closing, with one practice closing while it was waiting for vulnerable practice funding.

Other notable recent practices in danger include four GP practices in Lincolnshire, which the local trust is taking temporary charge over, four practices in Brighton and Hove servicing  over 10,000 patients having to close after funding was pulled through the review of PMS contract, while Essex LMC has warned that almost one third of practices have considered handing back their contract in the county.

Patients in one of Birmingham’s poorest areas will have to walk for 20 minutes for a GP appointment as their nearest practice will close this month after the CCG failed to retender the contract.

Read more about the campaign here

Readers' comments (29)

  • i'm sure a doh 'spokesperson' will be wheeled out to say surgeries open and close all the time, government pouring money in, 5YF endorsed by RCGP, GPs valuable contribution etc etc

    the press will blame GPs for being able to retire ('golden' pensions), lazy (cutting sessions), refusing to work for the glorious public (choosing not to commit career suicide with partnerships), and being ill (not resilient, wrong type of GP)

    personally i welcome it - the public need to decide do they want to fund healthcare properly or are they happy to watch as their services disappear. this is in effect what Chris Hopson was basically saying. fund it or lose it.

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  • Not that long ago going on strike was an option for the profession...
    This idea was scrapped as deemed too risky and unsafe

    At least going on strike leaves the public with a diminished service for a static period of time - a day or two - no more....

    However when you lose valuable partnerships, which is happening throughout England and Wales (particularly) you have forever lost what you had. Corporate organsiations talk about the loss of high quality intellectual and functional capacity... This is what this is.
    As each practice hands in their contract you have irrevocably lost something essential, vital and of great value...
    There is no going back

    Whose eyes and ears need prising open...?

    Enough... When is enough enough?

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  • GMS is not able to financially compete with PMS\APMS for effective staff.

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  • The corner shop model is dead. Long live the supermarket. This is what the people want and that is that. Stop moaning and start joining those primary care hubs/trusts.

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  • There is a simple solution of course. 7 DAY WORKING. Apparently, this will attract more doctors and be better for patient care. Because we have enough staff to be able to do the 5 day service really well. Await comment from NHSE and also DOH with above as a solutions, as well as the usual "5000 more GP#s, 10000 more nurses, 15000 more practices, 20,000 billion more funding" while the nose of the announcer just grows exponentially.

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  • News is something that is surprising and exceptional. Practices closing down and handing back contracts is the norm now. Why is this news?

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  • ...."5000 more GP#s, 10000 more nurses, 15000 more practices, 20,000 billion more funding" while the nose of the announcer just grows exponentially." Can we add Boris Johnson's £350m a week additional to the NHS to this list?

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner15 Sep 2016 12:08pm

    According to Ivan, that is precisely the reason younger GPs will want to come into the profession.

    I'm yet to see the logic and I'm not sure if Manchester GPs see it as well...

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  • and the premises are let to the GPs and owned by Assura so the partner signatories on the lease will be liable for the rent if/until a new provider takes over.

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  • And those of use who own our surgeries and are "last man standing" with MPIG disappearing and a financially unviable practice are destined for potential personal bankruptcy.
    While MPs are reinstating their soft-landing payments when they leave parliament.

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