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GPs go forth

GP partners forced to sell medical equipment to pay for costs of closure

Partners at a small GP surgery in Warwickshire are having to sell medical equipment to cover the costs of closing their successful practice.

A crowdfunder page has been set up to help the three partners of the Studley Health Centre cover up to £50,000 of the costs of closing the practice, including redundancy payments, raising £3,000 so far. 

The practice applied for ’vulnerable practice’ funding from the CCG, as part of the £10m fund set up by NHS England (see box below), but they were refused due to not meeting the criteria of the pilot scheme.

It also applied to merge with another local practice, a move which was rejected by NHS South Warwickshire CCG.

The practice, which had a patient list size of 2,000, handed back its contract in September and closed on 31 December.

Minutes from NHS South Warwickshire CCG had reflected that patient satisfaction at Studley Health Centre was ‘high’.

But Dr Lars Grimstvedt, one of the three part time partners at the practice, told Pulse that the practice became unviable after it lost PMS funding due to the ongoing PMS reviews.

He added: ‘We had to clear out our rented property as we were closing down which meant selling on office and medical equipment like couches, ECG machines, nebulisers, anything that was portable. We had to sell equipment to pay for the cost of closure. We didn’t go bankrupt but it was a very tough time. ‘

The partners at the practice have covered the shortfall from their own pockets and Dr Grimstvedt said that he was now working as a salaried GP at another practice and was earning more for doing the same hours.

Pulse reported in October that the partners were having to consider personal bankruptcy due to the closure.

This is the latest in a long line of practice closures highlighted by Pulse through its ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign.

Last week, the seventh practice closed in Brighton in less than two years, which has affected more than 30,000 patients in total. 

Some 2,300 patients were left with instructions to temporarily rely on a local walk-in centre after the GP principal at singlehanded Lewes Road Surgery handed back their contract. 

Help for struggling practices

NHS England has pledged millions to help GP practices at risk of closure, following Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign.

Its £10m Vulnerable Practice Fund was supposed to have been fully pledged by the end of 2016, and NHS England’s director of primary care said last month that between this and the £40m Practice Resilience Programme pledged in the GP Forward View, some 2,000 practices would have been bailed out by the end of March.

But, the promises have come at the same time as managers have said practices that do not conform to NHS England’s agenda for all GP practices to federate or merge to operate ‘at scale’ could ‘be left to fail and wither’.

Although NHS England has denied that this is its national policy, reports of closures of small practices keep coming in from around the country.

Pulse revealed in December that at least 16,000 patients would be losing their GP practice over the holiday period, and that six in 10 GPs say morale has deteriorated since the publication of the GP Forward View.

For advice on how to access the Practice Resilience Programme, read Pulse’s full guide

Readers' comments (16)

  • GP Survival committee on facebook are doing a great job helping to co-ordinate support and get the crowdfunding support circulated. Well done, real grassroots support for each other.

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  • Time to raise another Pulse campaign I feel
    Time to gather up not only the opinion of the profession but also the registered population of patients
    Time to reflect on what is happening in Ireland
    Time to wake up

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  • I feel very sorry for these practices but NHS England is making it impossible for the smaller practices to survive. it would be helpful if for once the press would pick up on these things rather than there normal bashing of GPs and focus on trying to help us improve the system.

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  • Get out of the NHS. Set up privately. Work wholly for yourself and enjoy giving a great service.

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  • I feel sorry for the partners.

    However, if GMS practice can manage, why are the PMS practices unable to carry on? They've had plenty of warning to shed the extra staff they are carrying to address the short fall and they always knew this was the risk when PMS was introduced.

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  • Naïve to think CCGs and NHSE would raise a little finger to help- they're thick as thieves and truly evil.

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  • Primary care is like a house of cards one blow from caving in, and the business model is no longer sustainable. The corner shop self employed small business partnerships worked in the 1940's to 1980's but since then the move has always been to a fully employed salaried model. All the new models of care rely on a standardised delivery of primary care which you can't get with multiple independent small uncontrollable providers. One strength of GP's is the ability to say no and not be fired, but the establishment needs to be able to control the whole system and order it to perform along pathways. The STP's are trying to do this but the thorn in the side is convincing primary care to deliver when there is no control. MCP's rely on a fully employed hence controllable workforce.

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  • STP`s are a way to reduce costs only, there will be no new money. If everyone is salaried they will of course work to contract rules and do no extra - which will then make the system even more expensive (remember costing for out of hours with new contract). I think government will need to consider different models of care or be doomed to a slow death spiral.

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  • We are in a slow death spiral time for plan B before we hit the bottom.

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  • There is no easy 'plan B'; of course after all us GPs are gone who are the politicians then going to blame for what the shortfalls were of the now extinct NHS?
    If I can plagiarize a line (which almost sounds prophetic) from the Eagles song 'Long road out of Eden' :"All the knowledge in the world is no use to fools".

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