Practice closing 'due to delayed paperwork' after death of single-hander
A London surgery is set to shut its doors for good following the death of its sole GP after commissioners failed to sort out paperwork to transfer ownership.
Myddleton Road Surgery, which serves around 3,100 patients, will close in November after delays to commissioners sending a new contract before the practice's single-handed GP passed away.
Dr Dineshwar Prasad died of cancer on 28 June, only eight days before a new GP partner was meant to take over the contract.
NHS Haringey CCG said it had no choice in the decision, first reported in the Enfield Independent, to terminate the contract as it was 'a legal stipulation in line with national primary care regulations'.
Prior to Dr Prasad's death, Myddleton Road Surgery had plans to merge with two other practices, which would have resulted in the practice relocating to a new building alongside the need for a new GP.
The CCG's primary care committee held a meeting on 20 June where it approved an application received to add one GP and a non-clinical partner to the practice.
However, Dr Prasad passed away before he could sign the changes made to the new contract, making it therefore invalid.
This was because commissioners failed to get the contract signed by Dr Prasad before he passed away, Pulse understands.
NHS Haringey CCG said: 'In the months leading up to Dr Prasad’s death, NHS Haringey CCG had been discussing and supporting the practice’s plans to merge with two other practices and to relocate to a new fit for purpose building. This would have led to the eventual closure of the Myddleton Road Surgery site. As part of the preparations for this merger, Myddleton Road Surgery was looking for a clinical partner to replace Dr Prasad.'
It added that it received an application to add a GP, which was approved on 20 June.
'Following the committee’s decision on 20 June, the next stage in the process is to make the relevant amendments to the contract and get it signed by the contract holder (Dr Prasad). Very sadly, Dr Prasad passed away eight days later on 28 June before this stage of the process could be completed.'
According to NHS England's GMS contract documents, if a sole practitioner dies, the practice's contract automatically comes to an end 'at the end of the period of seven days beginning with the date of the contractor's death'.
NHS Haringey CCG said: 'Dr Prasad was the sole contract holder at Myddleton Road Surgery, which meant that the contract automatically terminated following his death. The termination of a contract in this circumstance is a legal stipulation in line with national primary care regulations; it was not a decision that the CCG made or could influence.
'The CCG then had to make a decision about whether to undertake a full procurement process to issue a new contract. We decided not to do this in light of the inadequacy of the surgery’s premises, the relatively small number of patients registered with the practice and the high number of other GP practices near to Myddleton Road (there are 10 practices within one mile and 40 within two miles).'
A GP practising in the area, who wished to remain anonymous, told Pulse they believe commissioners could have better handled the case to prevent the practice from closing.
They said: 'The whole thing was very badly managed... Dr Prasad was the single handed owner of the practice and he got cancer.'
The GP added that there was a contract ready with a GP's name on it - but that GP had turned down the chance to take over the practice. But there was no signed contract with the GP who was willing to take over
'On Friday night, 28 June, Dr Prasad died. Monday morning, 1 July, the GP was there ready to take over but NHS England said they cannot have the practice because the contract dies with the doctor.
'That's legally right but morally what’s crazy is that there was a doctor ready to take over the surgery to look after 3,000 patients. Now those patients don’t have a doctor and have to be dispersed.'
NHS Haringey CCG said: 'We recognise that the timing is deeply unfortunate, and our thoughts are particularly with the Prasad family at this time.'
The CCG said it has appointed Federated4Health, a GP-run organisation, on a 'caretaking' contract to provide services until the surgery closes.
Please note - this story originally said there were delays from NHS England in signing the contract. However, NHS England confirmed that the CCG has delegated responsibility for the contract