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GP practices set for £1m emergency assistance fund from NHS board

Exclusive An NHS board is considering plans to allocate a £1m ‘emergency assistance’ fund for GP practices after it emerged one in six local practices had closed its list.

A committee of the NHS Lothian board reported that 20 out of 127 practices had reported closed lists, and pushed for the board to allocate the funding to pay for new GPs, help retain current GPs and upgrade services.

NHS Lothian told Pulse that it was ‘finalising the details’ of an emergency package for practices.

It comes as Pulse is running its Stop Practice Closures campaign calling for emergency funding for practices who are most in need.

The NHS Lothian potential funding follows lobbying by a group of health professionals in the area, the Edinburgh Community Health Partnership (CHP), who called for the board to provide the money to help several practices who do not have enough GPs to meet patient demand.

A report by the CHP sub-committee contained in NHS Lothian board papers for a meeting last week, ‘not[ed] the need for an additional £1 million funding for primary care’.

It added: ‘Work is underway to stabilise a number of practices due to issues around GP recruitment, locum availability, an ageing workforce and difficulty in attracting GP partnerships. District nursing and health visiting are facing similar workforce issues and ongoing difficulties with IT performance are also having an impact.

‘It has been highlighted that the model of primary care has not changed for 20 years. We are currently in a very challenging position with 20 practices in Edinburgh reporting closed lists.’

The CHP said it has ‘extreme concern over a number of GP practices being unable to continue to provide services.

An NHS Lothian spokesperson said: ‘The allocation of funding is still at a very early stage and specific recipients and schemes have not yet been identified. Details are being finalised and are subject to discussion with partner organisations.’

NHS Lothian said it had to take over the running of two practices this year, but Lothian LMC chair Dr Catriona Morton said that this figure was likely to rise.  

One practice – Links Medical Centre in Edinburgh – has remained open only through apportioning 2,000 of its patients last spring to other practices, after it was unable to replace GPs who left.

Dr Morton explained: ‘One million pounds is a realistic amount for an emergency fund. We can’t afford to lose practices in Edinburgh. NHS Lothian has to support practices in major difficulties. Practices are operating in areas of expanding populations, and so capacity has reached saturation point. Well over 20 practices have restrictions about how many people they will register.’

In England, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in his ‘new deal’ speech that struggling practices would receive £10m to support them, but it later emerged that this would only apply to practices put in special measures by the CQC.

Readers' comments (18)

  • Expect more of this - the most grudging response they can get away with. The whole system needs root and branch support. Bailing out the most visible problems is not going to stave off further widening collapse.

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  • Even if they gave all that £1 million pounds to me, I would not return to working as a full-time GP principal.

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  • The problems appear to be much the same in Scotland as in England - and it might appear that the Scottish NHS is having equal difficulties in, first, recognising that there *is* a problem and second in finding a solution.
    I agree : a £1m emergency fund (spread over how many years?) won't solve a chronic problem which is due to lack of GPs prepared to enter into partnerships (or even, it seems, to be locums) combined with ever-increasing populations and workload.
    Pulse, please keep us updated on this one: what will this fund be spent on - and will it be announced, and then raided for all sorts of things in addition to supporting struggling practices - as the fund announced by Jeremy Hunt has been in England?

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  • It will be interesting to see how the Daily Mail reports this 'bonus for GPs'.

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  • "Work is under way to stabilise a number of practices". Really? So while you and your million-pound thimble are bailing out through the back door, Hunt and his cronies have a sprinkler going in the waiting room. Joined up government my eye. Stable. Horse. Bolted.

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  • The impending disaster that is to prove the eclipse of General Practice as we know it has been on the cards for years and Governments ( Scottish or UK ) do not listen. Increasing part time work --impending retirement crisis--inadequate training and recruitment-have all led to this --
    What is the £1M going to be used for ---paying the patients not to be ill!!!
    And yesThe popular press who see us as a bunch of lazy fat cats soaking up the dosh will have a field day and we shall lose even more patient respect!!!
    "The Family Doctor RIP !!!!"
    There needs to be a salaried service utilising practices with Nurse Practitioners and GPs to do the more complex stuff in 15-20 minute appointments etc .

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  • They are becoming increasingly aware of the huge costs of "stabilising" practices, and how much unresourced work GPs have soaked up ovr the years from goodwill. Its too late now as the goodwill has dried up and less GPs are going into partnerships. Its going to be a huge cost to the NHS to provide the level of care that has been undertaken by General Practice in the past.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    LOL 3.11. I second that!

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  • The Phrase "pissing in the wind" comes to my mind

    in fact " urinating in an unremitting oncoming tornado" is probably more appropriate;

    GENERAL PRACTICE IS SO GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED, MORALE IS SO LOW that this papering over the cracks exercise will probably only last a few weeks and then another "bail out" will be required.....

    gets used to more and more and more of these stories folks

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  • To bail out this current mess will take billions not this pin money they are throwing at this.

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  • The irony is that if my Practice had the same level of funding as others with similar number of patients, I would had happily taken on a second salaried or partner and increased the list size by a 1000 patients. Strange are the ways things work.
    Still struggling to find out why my Practice has two National Codes and why Rurality Total Payment Units are being disregarded.
    Two National codes is like having 2 National Insurance numbers. Wonder whether that would be possible with HMRC vigilance.
    HSCIS has sent my request to look into this back to the PCA who in the past have been questioned by me about serious underfunding of the Practice but always explained 'it's historical'. Nobody in England knows who's pulling the strings, or is it gross incompetency...corruption???

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  • @sanjeev juneja

    I had exactly the same nonsense when I was a partner in the uk. A practice next door to mine, literally separated by a brick wall used to receive more funding than mine with a very similar demographic- I spent months trying to figure out why and in the end was told the same thing, "it's historic"!! Those were the exact words they used!! Unbelievable !! So just because an injustice has been perpetuated in the past lets carry it on because it's historic!!!
    The stupidity and ineptitude of the imbeciles that run this S$&t show is beyond belief.

    I used to bang my head against the bloody wall trying to figure things out over there with their crappy formula and funding patterns.

    Thank The Lord I saw the light and bloody emigrated!!!

    I'll leave you to your war of attrition and wish you the very best of luck, your a better man than me if you can carry on with your faculties preserved!!

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  • 2:17am - "it's historic"!!

    The imbeciles that run the S$&t show are applying the contract that we all welcomed in 2004. I'm guessing that a failure to apply that contract would lead to your neighbouring practice taking legal action.

    Until the contract changed we were all stuck with it. The phasing out of correction factors and PMS premiums is an imperfect solution but, provided that the money is reinvested into general practice, it should lead to greater equality.

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  • In the unlikely event that this money is given directly to practices, it works out at £1.18 per patient.....

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  • @ Billy Sanghera; History is fine but when PCA says they have no understanding or explanation and refer you to HSCIC and the latter sends you back to PCAs because it's not their job, you do begin to wonder whose job it is and who is pulling strings.
    Either both agencies have people who are not up to the job and need to look at their qualifications or you wonder whether there is deliberate mischief and thus the stance- it's not my job!
    Whatever, said and done, the Exeter statements calculate Rurality payment units for a purpose and payments should be made accordingly. If they shouldn't, then why calcluate this and put it on your statmements and also why do some Practices get paid ?? I'll leave this for Managers to decide.

    BTW, two years ago when we noticed that mileage from Surgery was not being coded for our patients- and there are 924 living beyond 3 miles- we began to put it manually. Within hours, we had a phone call from PCA not to do this. We persisted because we were aware of payments linked to distance from Surgery. The PCA official rejected our mileage for a few days daily and then gave up as we did not relent. We wonder - whether this was the only person in the whole of HSCIC and PCA who was aware of what has gone wrong with our Practice payments while the rest profess not to have a clue.
    How many other Surgeries have not even analyzed this aspect of payments?

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  • Just wait till Capita rewrite the system Sanjeev Juneja, then you will have something to complain about. We GPs have a few years to get out.

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  • 6:52: thanks for cheering me up. I am sure I then won't be in a position to understand that little which I still find comprehensible!!

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  • Just heard 120k needed to stay afloat with pms cuts and low earning
    Highly rated and 5555 patients
    We need stability but will have to sack our salaried lady doctor and nurse

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