This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

GPs go forth

Another GP practice to close in crisis town after CCG 'forced allocation' on them

A practice in the crisis town of Folkestone in Kent has announced it will shut after the local CCG refused to let it close its list and the surgery was unable to cope with the extra demand from the 'forced allocation' of patients.

Park Farm Surgery, run by sole GP partner Dr Neil Banik, will shut its doors on 31 March, with its 3,000-strong patient list due to be dispersed to other Folkestone practices, according to commissioners.

The Kent town has been hard hit by closures over the last few years after another practice was forced to shut less than three years ago following recruitment struggles.

At the time, Park Farm Surgery and the six other practices in the town all applied to NHS South Kent Coast CCG to stop new patients from registering, saying they were 'unable to take on more patients safely’.

However the CCG has confirmed that no practices in the town currently have closed lists.

The surgery's practice manager Piyali Banik told Pulse the practice was unable to cope after commissioners refused its request and it couldn't hire enough locum GPs to cover the extra work created by the 300 additional patients it absorbed.

She said‘Even though we tried to close our list, it was a forced allocation in the end so we got almost 300 extra patients. That doesn’t look like much but actually it is 10% of our load.

‘Our locum doctors and our nurses couldn’t cope, so one by one they left. It’s not that we really wanted to do this, but we were more or less cornered.’

She added that primary care networks (PCNs) had not eased pressure as they had hoped because of the extra services - such as extended hours and improved access - now coming under the remit of PCNs.

She said: ‘That means a single-handed doctor has to work Monday to Monday, including the weekend. It’s really not feasible and we don’t have the extra funding to employ a parallel doctor.

‘For the last couple of years we have struggled. We were surviving but now we’re in the position that from April we really can’t.’

She added: ‘Bigger practices are also struggling in our local area. If these things keep happening, probably sooner or later they will also have to close their practices.

‘It’s a domino effect. If all the practices are getting too much pressure, the whole cycle goes again and again.’

In a statement the CCG said it has 'no control' over whether a GP practice decides to shut and that it is 'committed to making sure that all patients will be able to register with a local practice that covers their home address before the surgery closes'.

In 2018, Dr Banik warned that the London commuter town was expected to see a population growth of 20,000 in the next two years – up from 60,000 – and that practices would struggle to cope.

Practices in the town had agreed to work together and share resources, as well as employing other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and paramedics, to help cope with patient demand.

However, local GPs told Pulse that the situation was unsustainable and a ‘time bomb’ waiting to happen, saying the remaining practices would ‘collapse’ if nothing was done to support them.

Prior to their warnings, in November 2017 Folkestone East Family Practice was closed after a major recruitment campaign did not result in a single application.

Commenting on Park Farm Surgery's decision to close this March, a spokesperson for NHS South Kent CCG said: 'The CCG has worked hard to learn from the situation in 2017 and provided support to all GP practices. We appreciate that Dr Banik has reasons for his decision to close his surgery but the CCG has a duty to make sure patients have access to a GP. 

'We are now working hard to make sure that all of Dr Banik’s patients can register at a local surgery.'

Last year, it emerged that all practices in the nearby Kent town of Ramsgate were restricting new patient registrations by 'list managing' rather than applying for formal list closure.

The five practices redirected new patients to NHS Thanet CCG after raising concerns about patient safety, with commissioners admitting GP recruitment was a 'significant challenge' in the region.

Readers' comments (19)

  • so sad

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The CCG is not listening and just pushing GPs who are already at the limit leads to closure.
    It is probably the lesser of the 2 evils as not coping with the extra workload leads to burnout, safety concerns, CQC, GMC, Gross negligence Manslaughter charges.
    I am sure the GP can find work anywhere.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I've always wondered why so many of these coastal towns have so much deprivation - anyway here we go again with nonsense such as "significant challenge"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In the current climate it is safer to shut and call it a day.

    Make one mistake and the CCG, NHSE,CQC and the GMC will crucify the GP and will not care why this happened. They will just be another GP that will take the rap for a broken system.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "In a statement the CCG said it has 'no control' over whether a GP practice decides to shut"

    It appears CCG has 'facilitated' closure

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Missing the bigger picture here
    No CCG or central system wants smaller practices
    It’s a concerted effort to make everything larger to be able to sell it off in the future
    PCNs are the first step
    Get rid of PCNs, unless you fancy a corporate style primary care run by undertrained ancillary staff and fast tracked so called doctors

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @policenthieves

    Maybe because there are no well-paid jobs or industries there?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Anonymous GP | GP Partner/Principal03 Feb 2020 11:19am"

    You are spot on. The CCG wants these small practices to close down. Much cheaper to have practices with lists of 100 000 and lots of noctors to process them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • CCG will be pleased. Agenda is to gradually close small practices.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • NHSE advisor let slip that the future model is for more noctors in bigger practices, they accept there will be no extra GPs. You amalgamate with other practices to reduce costs or you will be pushed in this direction. they want more ANPS, paramedics and PA, they are not interested in supporting partnership models anymore. Its all about MDTs and big super practices with cross cover and central admin hubs. when asked about continuity of care the response was it will happen if you have good clinical notes regardless of how many different people you see. Brave new world here we come.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say