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GPs go forth

GPs offered £25 per patient they register after practice closure leaves thousands without a GP

GPs are being offered a £25 ‘administrative payment’ for every patient they agree to take on from the list of a closing neighbouring practice, after 3,000 patients face being left without a practice when it closes in two days’ time.

NHS England’s Surrey and Sussex local area team said that the ‘short term, one-off support’ was being made available to practices in light of the Eaton Place Surgery – which has a patient list of 6,000 – closing at the end of the week with the retirement of both its GP partners.

The closure of the practice has been mired in confusion after Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, told local residents that the surgery was to remain open.

The practice manager told Pulse she was ‘disgusted’ by the actions of the MP, and warned there were 3,000 patients who had not registered elsewhere.

This is the first known offer of additional financial support to practices to take on patients from neighbouring practices.

Pulse has been campaiging for NHS England to pledge support to practices under threat of closure as part of its Stop Practice Closures campaign, after finding scores of practices on the brink of shutting, and has previously reported that one in five GP practices had struggled to cope with the influx of patients from closed neighbouring practices.

NHS England told Pulse that it was offering the support as an ‘administrative payment’ because of the short time frame in which practices will have to take on these patients.

A spokesperson said: ‘NHS England is providing short term, one-off support to reimburse practices in registering new patients. This reflects the imminent closure of Eaton Place and the number of patients other practices need to support to re-register safely within a short time frame.

‘Providing practices with a one-off administrative payment recognises the additional staff and resources they may need to make available to do this and will ensure they can maintain services at the same level for their existing patients while they are undertaking this work.’

The practice had contacted patients last week to confirm that it would close on 28 February after a neighbouring practice’s plans to install a branch surgery in the premises fell through.

Both the practice and the local area team had been advising patients to re-register with other providers since it was first earmarked for closure in November 2014.

However, Mr Kirby wrote to constituents in the practice’s immediate vicinity in January to tell them that the Eaton Place Surgery had been saved from closure following campaigning and lobbying on his part.

Practice manager Jeanette Corps told Pulse that more than 3,000 patients had yet to re-register elsewhere.

She said: ‘I’m pretty disgusted, to be honest. I don’t know exactly what the letter said, other than that the practice would definitely remain open.

‘We wrote to all the patients last week to tell them the surgery was closing. Some patients are very understanding, but others are obviously very upset. As much as I can understand that, it doesn’t help that I have at least four members of practice staff who still don’t have other employment to go to. It’s a difficult situation all round: there are no winners.’

In a statement sent to Pulse, Mr Kirby said that he was ‘frustrated and disappointed’ that the practice closure was to go ahead.

He said: ‘Having worked so hard to put all the interested parties together to enable the approval and ratification by NHS England of the branch application, I was very optimistic that local people would continue to enjoy a GP surgery at Eaton Place. […] I did indeed write to share the latest information at the time with local residents in the area surrounding Eaton Place.’

The MP offered to hold a roundtable with the current GPs, local GPs and NHS England to ‘try and find a way forward for patients, even at this late stage’.

NHS England told Pulse that there were 13 other GP practices within a two-mile radius of Eaton Place with the collective capacity to register all affected patients. All will be offered a £25 administration fee for each new patient they accept from Eaton Place.  

A spokesperson said: ‘NHS England was clear in its communications to patients and local stakeholders that we could not guarantee that a new branch surgery would open at Eaton Place, or by what date. We therefore recommended to patients that they should continue to re-register with other local GP practices while these negotiations were ongoing. Unfortunately the practice that wanted to set up the surgery is no longer in a position to go ahead with its plans.

‘NHS England’s ongoing priority is to make sure all affected patients are able to choose alternative arrangements for their care and to guarantee that they will all have ongoing access to GP services once the current surgery closes.’

This comes after Pulse blogger Dr Hadrian Moss was threatened with a breach of contract notice after he informally closed his practice list.

Readers' comments (31)

  • A bunch of Einsteins in NHSE. This is a direct result of pay, pension, MPIG, seniority cuts. Add in Prof Field from CQC on Christmas eve checking on you. Imposed Contracts, bullying. Add In
    Prof Malcolm Grant, Prof Merrion Thomas and of course Minister Dan Poulter.
    The Conservatives want the end of General Practice and the NHS consequentially - this is obvious from their actions, if you ignore their weasel words.

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  • The GPC is in the pocket of the BMA which is run by secondary care doctors who could not care less about primary care and are more interested in their gold plated pensions and honours. We GPs need our own union - forget about the BMA ever truly representing us.

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  • NHS should stop undue turtures of their employee doctors,They break employment Law in facilities they give to GPs,faulty dangerous error inflicting computers,unqualified staff with big titles;then refer the GPs to GMC for computers faults;When GMC FTPP reinstates them;they still put unnecessary insurmountable hurdles on GPs and doctors.They are putting the last straw on the camels back and destroying this noble health service to patients.
    There are easier ways to survive than become a doctor.
    John Milton in Lycidas says'What boots it with uncessant care to tend the homy,slighted shepherds trade;And strictly meditate the thankless muse(NHS0;Were it better done ,as others use ,to sport with amrylis in the shade or woth tangles of Naera's hair.He replies'fame is the spur that the noble mind doth crave;That last Infirmity of the noble mind;To scorn delight and live laborious days'

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  • That's it ! My last patient seen as a Full time GP ! An Emotional Day .half the Staff leave today as we have a few weeks to close the practice down without seeing Patients .Time to heal now

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  • How much is it likely to cost you to close the practice ?

    What a disgrace that you are individually liable when NHS England should have supported you to stay open. After all there were two of you who would have been willing to see a certain number of patients.

    Perhaps they could have paid for locums for you to carry on looking after the same number of patients, or they could have dispersed those patients above what two doctors could safely look after, and supported you in paying the extra expenses you could no longer afford with a reduced list.

    No instead they washed their hands of you and have potentially destabilised all the surrounding practices.

    The recruitment crisis is directly caused by the Government. They bear the responsibility and should fund the winding up of your practice. If they do not then a precedent is set that will see practices fall unnecessarily as GPs leave to avoid being the last man standing.

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  • 10:57am
    "The GPC is in the pocket of the BMA which is run by secondary care doctors who could not care less about primary care and are more interested in their gold plated pensions and honours. We GPs need our own union - forget about the BMA ever truly representing us."


    So many of us who have left the gutless BMA would join a separate union that has GPs interests at heart.

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  • as much as it pains me to say, since the GPC have been ineffectual, but it is the powers that be in the BMA that hold the control. They are the ones who veto much of what GPC might achieve, as these non-GPs are protecting their future knighthoods etc.
    Time for an independent negotiator group, not part of the BMA.

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  • 'will ensure they can maintain services at the same level for their existing patients'
    Extraordinary incompetence/abdication of responsibility -they have no idea.
    We all feel for you Robert!

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 27 February 2015 1:52pm

    How much is it likely to cost you to close the practice ?
    About £400000 , Mortgage / Redemption fees Redundancy plus Tax Accountancy fees etc .
    I paid £50000 to buy in in 1989
    We are clearly not closing it down to skip off and become Millionaires !!

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  • This is so sad, I feel as GPs we all want to do the best for our patients but we are being pushed beyond reasonable limits. If no one wants to carry on the good work we do, what are we supposed to do. I blame the press for denigrating a great profession.

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