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Recruitment crisis forces GP collaborative to hand back contracts on six practices

A not-for-profit company set up by GPs has been forced to end its contracts with six practices, due to problems recruiting permanent GPs.

Primary Care Connect manages six Liverpool practices and had a fix-term contract for each until the end of March 2020, but will now stop running them in June this year.

Liverpool CCG announced the GPs’ decision to give six months’ notice in January, and said it is now working to ‘minimise any uncertainty’ for patients.

Primary Care Connect, which has been managing the six GP practices since April 2017, is a collaborative comprised of five Liverpool-based GP practices, the Liverpool General Practice Provider Organisation and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

In a statement the CCG said Primary Care Connect was bringing its contracts to an end early 'because of problems recruiting permanent doctors'.

It also stated the company was 'having to rely on temporary doctors' which had 'created financial problems'.

The situation was particularly challenging for Primary Care Connect’s practices because it has a relatively small list of patients, meaning it is paid less, the CCG explained.

Liverpool GP and NHS Liverpool CCG chair Dr Fiona Lemmens said: 'We are working hard to get to a decision about what happens next, so that we minimise any uncertainty.

'It’s really important to stress that however we decide to move forward with these practices, all Liverpool patients will continue to have a GP practice. There is no suggestion of reducing GP services in Liverpool; this process is purely about which practices those services are provided from.'

The CCG is now investigating whether it can find someone else to run each practice, or if it needs to transfer patients to other practices nearby.

An update is expected in March.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey called the situation in Liverpool ‘concerning’, and said despite Government promises there remains a shortfall of GPs across the UK.

He said: 'It is concerning that an organisation running six GP practices in a large city like Liverpool has ended its contract with the NHS because they cannot find enough GPs to permanently staff their services.'

He also warned the impact of Brexit could make it potentially harder for EU doctors to work in the UK, which would only make the situation worse.

'In the recently announced changes to the GP contract, the Government recognised workforce issues need to be addressed. This now needs to be delivered rapidly and practically, or patient care will only continue to decline,’ he added.

The new five-year GP contract promised more than 20,000 extra primary care staff will be recruited and funded by NHS England to support GPs, but admitted that the 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 target is unlikely to happen.

The six Liverpool practices affected are:

  • Primary Care Connect Everton Road
  • Primary Care Connect Anfield Health
  • Primary Care Connect Garston
  • Primary Care Connect Netherley Health Centre
  • Primary Care Connect West Speke
  • Primary Care Connect Park View

Last year Pulse revealed over a million patients had to move surgeries in the last five years due to practice closures, with nearly 450 GP surgeries closing over that period.

Primary Care Connect has been contacted for comment.

Readers' comments (16)



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  • Quick advice to local GP's to keep these 6 practices out of your Primary Care Networks.

    They'll drag you down.

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  • Primary care networks are doomed to failure anyway because of the recruitment crisis the will speed up the exodus.

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  • End of the line?

    You need to analyse why no one wants to work in these practices
    1. Deprived areas and demanding patients
    2. practices rum with bare minimum staff
    one doc one nurse
    3. unlimited liability for the doctor
    4. excessive workload with admin tesrt results letters
    never ending treadmill
    5. limitless home visit demand

    How to correct
    funding needed so pure sessional work only
    as per locum
    hand back responsibility for home visits to alternative service

    Fund pure admin role for test results and letters

    Stipulate no single handed cover
    minimum 2 docs on site at all times

    only then will things work

    There i saved the NHS thousands in management consultant fees..

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  • Re 10.03 PCNs, They will have no choice but to keep them, the contract states that PCNs will have to cover all patients in the PCN geographical boundary even if a practice refuses to join its PCN. This will make it all the more easier, when practices close, as the patient list can be dispersed among the remaining practices in the PCN by NHS England.

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  • End of the line?

    Primary Care Connect Everton Road
    Primary Care Connect Anfield Health
    Primary Care Connect Garston
    Primary Care Connect Netherley Health Centre
    Primary Care Connect West Speke
    Primary Care Connect Park View

    Its not nice going here
    quick one session at a time
    helps limit liability

    p.s. did these use to be SSP practices
    who next Virgin to run the same ??

    no new funding = no new improvements
    but by the time anyone notices
    they should have creamed away a healthy profit

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  • Doctors and other staff in these practices have had to work extra hard to try to stop them from falling apart for many years. The practices have been through PCT, then 2 lots of APMS with only small attempts by those responsible to invest the time and money needed to make these rundown practices better.
    The level of investment needed to bring these practices back is much less than would be needed to encourage a corporate investor.
    Recruitment is an issue here, but in a city with a medical school and a GP scheme, there are GPs if the terms are right.

    The concern is that if the lists are dispersed that there will be a net loss of investment into primary care. These deprived practices in poor parts of a deprived city need investment from the commissioners. It is needed to make them into attractive places to work for GPs and other staff.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    David, you're right, but the Tories don't care, nor will they till it happens in Redhill. Or Bexley.

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  • David Banner

    And there are plenty more recruitment sinkholes around the UK teetering on the brink. The make do and mend approach of employing non doctors to replace partners is stretched paper thin, and 1 more retirement will topple multiple practices into the abyss.

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  • Advice to the local GPs of the 6 practices that are run down, join a well staffed surgery as we have learnt from Bawa Garba that you get charged with Gross Negligence Manslaughter for trying to help. If it is unsafe, you should not be working.The toxic UK environment is to blame the doctor!

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