This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

8,000 patients losing their GP in new round of practice closures

At least 8,000 patients in England are being left to find a new GP amid a new spate of practice closures brought on by recruitment and financial woes.

The 3,000-patient Conishead Medical Group practice in Sunderland will close at the end of this year, after its two partners were forced to hand over their GMS contract

At the same time, a 5000-patient practice lost its fight for survival, despite political pressure, and a third practice is closing a branch surgery.

Conishead Medical Group partner Dr Mike Hipwell said: ‘We have been proud to serve the community in Ryhope for more than thirteen years, so this was an immensely difficult decision.

‘We have explored different options but we face increasing pressures on the service which are especially difficult for a practice of our size.’

Debbie Burnicle, deputy chief officer at NHS Sunderland CCG, said: ‘The partners have taken a difficult decision to bring their contract to an end on December 31.

‘We are looking at the best way to ensure that patients have access to a GP practice after that date.’

The news comes as GP leaders warned struggling practices that handing back their GMS contracts risks leading to profit-seeking companies taking them over.

Meanwhile, the fight to the Marske Medical Practice near Redcar, which had been run by a temporary provider since March, has been lost after four unsuccessful attempts by the CCG to find anyone to take it on permanently.

South Tees Medical Ltd held a temporary contract to provide services at the 5,000-patient practice until May this year, after its previous provider, Danum Medical Services Limited, went into administration.

The practice closure previously sparked a political row, with Labour MP Anna Turley saying the lack of bids marks a 'damning indictment of this Government’s market approach to healthcare'.

But despite her interference, NHS South Tees CCG said it made ‘the difficult decision’ to close the practice after ‘four recent unsuccessful attempts at finding a provider for the service’.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are very disappointed to be in this position, but are left with little choice after no providers came forward to run the service.'

Further, Greenmoss Medical Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, which has a 4,700-patient list, is looking to close a branch practice after difficulty recruiting a replacement for a recently retired partner.

Practice manager Heather Grocott said: ‘Dr James Patterson is due to retire shortly, after being a GP at the branch surgery for many years, and whilst we are in the process of advertising for a new GP we are not currently in a position to be able to replace him.’

She added that facilities at the Rode Heath Surgery are not up to the same standard as those at Greenmoss, which she said was reflected in the practice’s ‘requires improvement’ rating by the CQC.

It comes as Pulse’s latest GP vacancy survey revealed that almost one in five practices has had to abandon searching for a new doctor as vacancy rates have hit their highest ever.

Readers' comments (9)

  • What i find interesting is that none of this seems to hit the front pages of the national press ! The only way to help these patients and GPs is for this to happen and become a aminstream issue. it is not about political parties just plain decent healthcare and no planning for the future. All and sundry seem too scared to tell the public we can only afford certain things and that is that. it is happening all over the world even new Zealand and Australia are having the same problems with primary care so lets start to be open about it and speak about it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cobblers

    Media none too worried as it is 'oop north'. Now if it was in Reigate or Tunbridge Wells it might be a different story.

    Won't have long to wait though. All of GP is under the cosh. SE England is almost as vulnerable as Sunderland.

    Slow car crash is ongoing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • They want to privatise NHS. This is all deliberate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "The news comes as GP leaders warned struggling practices that handing back their GMS contracts risks leading to profit-seeking companies taking them over...." This is often mooted but I don't see this happening very much as the bare truth is that there is very little profit to be made for these private companies. GPs usually run them pretty efficiently and yes you may able to stick in some cheaper salaried doctors and possibly make some economies over back office but this is offset by the hassle and the very thin margin. The truth is that General Practice is very unappealing to everybody.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • agree with policenthieves - i just don't see this as a they want to privatise the nhs thing - where is the evidence of that - most of the big players avoid primary care - or state they only want to provide back office. none of the big super practices have sold out - you would think they would be the first. the reality is GPs run a tight ship and any savings you might make on cheaper salaried docs - and I'm not convinced thats actually the case - are offset by the increased management costs. its years of incompetence - and political inability to discuss rationing. also there are a lot of pressure groups particularly pharma and in secondary care - who see it in their interests to drive demand.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Do not fear privatisation. So far all the doctors have short changed themselves. Being a professional means being able to do what you feel is best. Now non clinicians, non doctors are telling you what is best. They have not been through medical school. It will be the doctors new found freedom. Even a plumber has more choice these days.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Do not allow privatization to occur. You have everything to fear from it

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Council of Despair

    there are two types of privitisation -

    one where we are the boss and the other is where we are the worker.

    in our present course we are going to be workers - the current plan appears to be supersize to reduce costs and go salaried. in the short term this will prop up the NHS but as spending increase stay below 4% per annum we will be back to square one. With no other cost savings the next step will be to sell off these superpractices to larger private organisations.

    with plan B it is possible to go the way of dentists and have practices owned and run by GPs - the practices will be smaller local businesses and are more likely to remain locally accountable with greater continuity of care.

    We have not been given a choice in the matter and are being herded towards supersizing and going salaried.
    We are told we must save the NHS but are we really saving it or just laying the ground work for large scale privitisation?

    ideally there should be no privitisation but i think we are fooling ourselves that we can save the NHS so we should look at other options and given the choice I would prefer to be the boss of my own business.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • totally agree with policenthieves- private companies wont take over primary care, there is simply not enough in it for their shareholders to agree. Partnership model for all its critics, is extremely financially 'efficient' ie we stay late to get job done, although this goodwill is quickly waning/GPs falling over with burnout. In a private company, salaried staff will get paid for what they do and in my view add 30% on to the cost- partners all work 3x 4 hours sessions in a 2 sessions day now.
    Time to stop doing stuff we shouldn't eg syringe ears, see minor illness(by definition gets better on its own), or payment per item. As a profession, GPC/BMA should give government the choice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say