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The waiting game

Federations, foundation trusts and corporates appointed to emergency GP practice support framework

NHS England has appointed 21 providers that will step in and take over the running of struggling GP practices at short notice in the south of England.

The scheme, first revealed by Pulse, has seen NHS England appoint 10 GP-led organisations, including superpractices, GP federations and out-of-hours co-operatives.

But the list also includes two foundation trusts, corporate giant Virgin Care and smaller private companies or social enterprises currently running care homes, APMS-contracted GP practices, urgent care and walk-in centres.

The idea is for the providers to be pre-contracted by NHS England to be able to step in and offer short term support to practices struggling to fulfil contractual duties due to the resignation or retirement of a GP amid the current recruitment crisis.

Local GP leaders have expressed support for the scheme in light of the current pressures on practices but suggested it may also be called upon to take over GP practices shut down by the CQC as part of its new tougher inspection regime.

NHS England said its framework ‘will enable primary care commissioners to speed up the procurement of providers to fulfil vacated contracts’ using APMS contracting and ‘mini competitions’ if necessary.

A spokesperson said: ‘It is designed to increase the options available and simplify the timeline and process for securing short term general medical services locally.

‘NHS England (South) received 36 applications to be on the framework following a comprehensive Invitation to Tender (ITT) process.’

Dr David Jenner, formerly NHS Alliance contract lead and GP in Devon, said the measure was ‘prudent’ by NHS England which does ‘not have enough staff to effectively commission general practice’.

He said: ‘This at least allows them to respond quickly to the threat of a practice closing. In the environment which we’re operating in, what makes this necessary is that more contracts are voluntarily being resigned.’

However he added: ‘But there is also the new added dimension of the CQC closing practice contracts down, so they need to be able to respond to that quickly.’

Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson, whose practice is running one of the pilots for new models of general practice together with a community hospital trust named on the list of emergency support providers – Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust - said he was ‘largely positive’ to the scheme.

He said Southern Health, as provider of community nursing and mental health services, was ‘not looking to run GP practices’ and have offered to step in and offer support because ‘they recognise that if we just let them wither on the vine we will have a disaster’.

He said: ‘Practices in some areas are in a difficult state and where we have had to try and rescue one or two there hasn’t been anyone out there who can come and do things for them.’

The news comes as the Government has announced plans to step in to aid practices that have been identified with issues via their CQC inspection as part of the ‘new deal’ for GPs.

Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign has revealed that 160,000 patients have already been displaced by practices closing in the last two years and there has been a 500% increase in the number of practices seeking support on closing or merging nationwide.

The 21 providers on NHS England’s GP practice support panel:

Access Health Care

Banes Enhanced Medical Services+

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Brisdoc Healthcare Services

Bristol Community Health CIC

Church Street Practice

Devon Health Ltd.

Gloucester GP Consortium Ltd

Innovations in Primary Care Ltd

IntraHealth Ltd.

Lake Road Practice

Medway Community Healthcare CIC

One Medical Group

Peninsula Community Health CIC

Principal Medical Ltd.


Solent NHS Trust

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

The Practice Plc.

Virgin Care Services Ltd

Worthing Medical Group

Source: NHS England

Readers' comments (42)

  • The beginning of the end . Tory Jeremies have been lining up for this all along .

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  • "By the pricking of my thumbs something evil this way comes".They step out of the shadows ready to pick over the bones of primary care.

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  • So you have private providers now who will be able to take over the running of Practices. I thought the heading mentioned 'Federations' ?
    'Tory Jeremies'- as mentioned above- and cronies in NHSE have begun to expose their claws and teeth- little Red riding hood knows now that time is running out.

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  • I will not be surprised if now we will see 10 fold increase in practice closures by CQC!!!!!!

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  • Isn't this legalised theft ? It is all becoming clearer.

    The Government has done it's best to send practices to the wall, so that they can be gifted to their mates.

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  • The slide accelerates...

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  • would Pulse like to look at what happens after such organisations take over failing practices? How much extra does it cost? How does the service work? Are patients at less risk?

    There are several examples in the last year or so, North Derbyshire seems to have had its fair share.

    Come on Pulse, get the FoI requests in as to what happened, why the practices failed and how mnuch it cost.

    There must be doctors out there who are working or have worked in these practices before and after they went under

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  • God this is actually daylight robbery. Push practices to bankruptsy or close them down only to have them run by big business chums.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • This plan was a poorly kept secret. Vote Tories and this is what you get. Don't expect anything from a pig but a grunt. Thankfully we are not trapped... yet.

    1) Locum

    2) Move to Australia.

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  • start of super providers and private companies taking over general practice.

    Leading to no more partners and a salaried service, with huge profits being siphoned from the NHS to politicians corporate buddies.

    once big enough USA Private Healthcare will just come and take over the cream of the profit making companies in a corporate raid, which is essentially legalised theft from the NHS.

    With politicians claiming to be powerless to stop capitalism in motion like when US Super Pharmaceuticals came to take over UK companies as fair trade agreements/EU laws prevent political interference, especially after US/UK transatlantic sell out law introduced last parliament.

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