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One third of practices considering handing back their contract in one area

General practice in Essex is on the brink of collapse, the LMC has warned, after finding that almost one third of practices have considered handing back their contract.

Essex LMC’s survey of GP practices saw 31% respond that this was something they had considered, while a staggering 90% described their workload as unmanageable or unsustainable.

Worryingly, more than eight in ten practices, 85%, said they were seeing the quality of service deteriorating as a consequence, the survey of 151 practices in the county showed.

In all, 83% of practices said they are currently unable to provide enough appointments to meet the demands patients, with over half of respondents, 62%, confirming that the future viability of the practice was at risk.

The survey further uncovered 106 current GP vacancies and 62 GPs planning to retire within 12 months.

In a bid to create a safer, more effective healthcare environment, over 76% of Essex practices surveyed said that they would consider limiting the number of patient contacts, the LMC said.

It warned that if general practice did collapse in parts of Essex the inconvenience to patients would be ‘huge’ and it would be impossible for hospitals to cope.

Essex LMC chief executive Dr Brian Balmer said: ‘It is clearly evident, and has been for some time, that NHS England has repeatedly failed to address the serious and very obvious problems facing general practice in Essex.’

He also directed criticism against NHS England’s ‘success regime’ programme which is currently operating in the county, saying it was ’far more interested in the financial deficit of hospitals than… investing in models of safe, sustainable primary care for the residents of Essex’.

Essex is one of three areas, alongside Cumbria and northeast and west Devon, which were ‘diagnosed’ by NHS England last year as having a ‘long term systemic imbalance’ in structure and financial viability.

Calls to rescue general practice

The survey results come as a landmark study published in the Lancet earlier this month said general practice in England is ’reaching saturation point’.

And the GPC last week published a list of actions it wants to be taken to bring general practice in England back from the brink.

The ‘urgent prescriptions’ for general practice included putting a limit of the number of patient contacts per GP per day, a definition of work that is not covered by the core contract, and an overhaul of CQC regime to focus on practices where concerns were raised.

The calls have come as the Department of Health and NHS England are in the final stages of preparing their roadmap for general practice rescue package.

The rescue deal has been delayed, having initially been planned for February, as a suggested £110m package was branded ‘inadequate’.


Readers' comments (23)

  • I think they think that they can always pull back form the brink. They believe they need to stress the system until the pips start really squeaking. This is a miscalculation as there now is no back up, no doctors waiting in the wings. Too many of the most productive fulltime middle aged GPs have been driven out.This destructive ignoring and ignorance is truly criminal. Thr roadmap will be too little and anyway much too late.

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  • Disaster about to happen in Whichurch Shropshire one practice about to hand back its contract other 2 likely to be overwhelmed and probably will close then leaving 13000 people without a GP in November local NHS England incompetence as usual and a naive CCG in special measures combined with a badly managed hospital trust sucking all the money out of the local health economy
    Harvey Jones in 1990 said they couldn't run a business then but you can't make bricks with straw Mr Hunt

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  • One practice in my area about to hand back contract and another practice 3 docs down. My practice is going to be 2fte docs down in January 2017 and nothing on the horizon to help.

    Road map rescue plan is taking primary care to the white cliffs of Dover. There is absolutely no rescue from this impending disaster.

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  • Do it! Do it!

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  • 'considered' -

    until it happens it doesn't mean anything. i've considered leaving the NHS for the last year but i'm still doing locums !

    there is no crisis until one occurs - sadly we need total collapse to happen asap - until then we will be ignored.

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  • In Essex my local practice where I am registered has handed back its contract in Essex. Sutherland lodge surgery. Excellent cqc rating for all its worth. Lost A THIRD of their funding overnight. Good on the partners for handing back their contract. Now just waiting for the domino effect

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  • Stop considering and just do it!

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  • Practices considering handing back the contract should consider doing it in a coordinated way.

    That is not to say coordination should sway your decision; but if you have decided that the time as come, I would suggest a private chat to as many colleagues as you can to come to a joint solution.

    A small surgery handing back their contract does not mean much.
    A large surgery is complicated and expensive for NHS England - but just about manageable without riots.
    2 large surgeries and 3 smaller surgeries from the same area handing in their notice on the same day will actually make things happen.

    Good luck to everyone who is in such a desperate situation that you are considering this type of action. Please look after yourself and your health first - nothing else really matters.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Remember who is the ******* who created this bureaucracy terminology 'success regime' ? To have this happening under its watch , NHSE and of course you know who , have committed a crime because these colleagues must not have taken their decisions lightly . After all , when was the last time you saw an extraordinary situation like this ? One can always argue that businesses open and close as far as market and economists are concerned . But this is exactly why the stakeholders and the 'rulers' can not use a purely monetary , virtueless and market-based attitude to treat general practice(hence , NHS)in this country .
    For those who have decided to leave , give you the full respect and salute : ''do not enter a dangerous territory , do not live in one which is chaotic . Make yourself available if the system shows justice , hide yourself away if not .'' Even Confucius was realistic ........
    If one believes we are people's doctors , Agent Hunt and his gang are harming people .....

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  • Yeah yeah, heard it all before, so many times. They are just crying wolf.
    Nobody believes it - not the public, not the government, not the news media, they've heard the scare stories so many times and nothing actually happened.

    It's just doctors crying wolf, again. You've done it so many times that no-one listens.
    I know times are really tough, my practice is struggling too. So just get on and hand back your contracts, or shut up.

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