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GPs go forth

Four practices set to close leaving 10,000 patients displaced

Four practices in Brighton and Hove which together service over 10,000 patients are to close after having funding pulled through the review of PMS contracts.

Pulse reported in January that The Practice Group handed back its contract for the five practices after PMS funding was cut by 20%. 

Although the provider agreed to continue providing services past its contract in March, NHS England has now announced that the practices will close.

According to a letter sent to stakeholders from NHS England, patients at three of the practices will be automatically transferred to other GP practices when theirs closes in July, September and November.

The includes 4,000 patients of The Practice Whitehawk Road who will be able to attend a GP practice run from the same building.

However, the 2,000 patients at The Practice North Street will have to register for a new GP themselves after the practice closes in July.

The fifth practice currently run by the Practice Group is for homeless people, and NHS England is re-procuring this service.

Dr Julius Parker, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs told Pulse that he didn’t know why the CCG were not running a re-procurement process for the four practices, but he said: ‘I am aware that procurement for practice list sizes of 2,000 or 3,000 isn’t considered to be economically possible by NHS England; I presume that the CCG were concerned that they might not get a successful procurement programme.’

He added that the LMC has been trying to ensure that practices where patients will re-register get ‘adequate support for that additional workload and for the responsibilities that come with a surge in new practice registration’ although the decision for any extra support ultimately lies with NHS England.

A spokesperson for NHS England (South) said: ’In response to the decision by The Practice Group to give notice on their contract to provide services at five Brighton and Hove GP surgeries, our priority has been to ensure all affected patients have ongoing access to local care. 

’We have now secured alternative care arrangements for patients from The Practice Whitehawk Road, The Practice North Street, The Practice Willow House and The Practice Hangleton Manor following further discussions with other GP practices, patients and local community representatives. We are writing to all affected patients to explain next steps and to support them in moving to a new practice.’

‘We are reprocuring services provided at the Brighton Homeless Healthcare surgery, so that we can appoint a new healthcare provider to deliver care to the vulnerable patients who use this surgery from the beginning of February 2017,’ they added.

Brighton has experienced other practice closures. When his practice closed last year, Dr Robert Mockett told Pulse in a heartfelt piece that it was like a bereavement

Pulse campaigning for support for vulnerable practices

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Copy of 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. This development sees NHS England finally moving forward with their scheme.

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.

By March 2016, NHS England had formally identified more than 800 GP practices as vulnerable as part of its work to allocate £10m worth of support funding.

It found the situation was worst in the North Midlands where 22% of practices were identified as struggling. In London and South Central, around a sixth of practices have been identified as eligible for support funds.

The General Practice Forward View, published in April, pledged to add another £16m to the initial £10m vulnerable practices’ fund.


Readers' comments (16)

  • This is the tip of the iceberg! Once one practice goes under the extra stress on the surrounding practices to absorb and re-register patients will lead to more early retirements. With so few GP's willing to join partnerships the future looks bleak. NHSE needs to step up and come up with a lasting solution not more plasters on a fatal haemorrhage!

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  • Conspiracy theories abound. I doubt that NHSE are planning these closures, but if that's the way it is, so be it. From their perspective it simply clears away the dead wood to allow new, exciting ways of working. They'll let us know what they are when someone else has worked it out. There will be no rescues. Why rescue something that's in your way?

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  • There is a point at which you realise you are no longer stood on your feet but plummeting downwards with your head first.

    This is the point at which General Practice is currently residing.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    I think the "Vulnerable Practices" scheme is a con. The practices are vulnerable because they are largely at the bottom end of the funding distribution curve and have been chronically underfunded. With the loss of MPIG and seniority they have largely tipped into insolvency.
    The provision of mentors etc is a total waste of energy. They need money. In the baseline. Now. Or more patients will be left without a GP, perhaps forever.
    Then, too late, the powers that be (and I wait for the reshuffle of the cabinet with delight and anticipation) will wring their hands and wonder how GPs managed to cope with so much work for so little money.

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  • Jeremy and Stephen where are you????

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  • Dear All,
    Meanwhile hundreds of millions of money has been poured into trusts to shore them up. Read the HSJ story on it (sorry Nigel but you've not covered it here).

    So they continue to withdraw money from a service that is acknowledged to have been starved and penalised for 10 years.


    Paul C

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  • Wilfully destruction of local practice model continues unabated. Media and public missing the biggest NHS tragedy. Tell your patients what is being done to you and about the utter lack of any credible rescue. Slaithwaite community have gone to war for our practice. Have held off PMS cuts for now. Other communities standing up for their surgeries. Londonwide LMCs standing up too. Time for action now. has the tale.

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  • All the new models of care are predicated on having a GP holding the reins as the default when the rest of the system can't cope. All the pump priming money in Vanguards etc allow for back fill and then everyone else is just expected to copy the results with none of the added resources and vilified when they fail. The MCP models that are being touted as the saviour of the NHS from the US models have an expectation that the patients have some responsibility to maintain their health or they don't get the care. The insurance model refuse pre-existing conditions and patients have to pay up front. The biggest cause of personal bankruptcy and austerity in the US is medical bills! How many patients in the UK would ever get insurance because of their multiple co-morbidities. The NHS treats on needs irrespective of the causes yet we are sleep walking into the managed care organisations!

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  • If the elected Govt of a country thinks this is the way forward, so be it. We can point out, cry, complain etc, but if GP land in its current state can survive on profit of £60/patient year,the Govt. will not give you £ 80.
    We, as Independent Contractors, can stay or leave for the sum they offer. It is as simple as that.

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  • We saw that our practice was unsustainable. We closed it and moved on . The area team thought there was capacity within the surrounding practices to absorb our 6500 list . Clearly this was not the case .East Brighton is a tough place to work. Our practice had been there for 100 years or so .There was no support to keep our practice going , because of the costs involved , No one had the money to take it over, nor was any realistic offer made to for its continuation . We were the tip of the ice burg . Many more will close . I now work as a locum , GP up the coast and as a Prison GP which I Love . Free of the maddness of Partnership and the impending doom of all the non medical crap , I have done Mindfullness retreats to come to terms with the abuse I suffered as a partner and feel much better in myself as a result . Live in the now . And breathe

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