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18,000-practice set to close as GP partners hand back contract

A practice in Oxfordshire with a list of 17,948 patients could be set to close after failing to recruit enough GPs to remain open.

Partners at the Horsefair Surgery in Banbury said in a letter to patients that it had given notice to NHS England to terminate its GMS contract after several of its GPs left due to retirement or ill health.

As a result, one branch is closing from 3 October ‘for the forseeable future’, while the partners will continue to run its other surgery until a new provider is found.

It is one of the largest practices to announce their closure, and is the second in Oxfordshire to hand its contract back within a matter of weeks.

The CCG has said ‘given the issues with recruitment and capacity’, it is running a recruitment campaign.

The three partners at the practice explained to patients in a letter on 7 September why they were handing their contract back.

They said: 'This is a letter to explain a change in the running of Horsefair Surgery. We, partner GPs, have given notice to terminate our contract to provide general medical services. As you may already know, several of our GPs have left due to retirement or ill-health.

'The practice has been working hard to recruit GPs but our efforts have been unsuccessful. We are not alone in this. Across the country GP services are under significant pressure because of rising demand and difficulties in recruitment. 

The partners said that there it would continue to provide services at its South Bar House premises in Banbury until they handed over to a new healthcare provider, but that the Middleton Cheney branch surgery from October 3 ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Julie Dandridge, deputy director & head of primary care and localities at NHS Oxfordshire CCG said: 'The challenges faced by Horsefair Surgery are similar across the county and country. Horsefair Surgery have given notice to terminate their contract. We will work with the surgery to support them while we secure a provider of GP services who will work from South Bar House and ensure a smooth handover of services when the time comes.

’Given the issues with recruitment and capacity across the county, we are looking at launching a GP recruitment campaign to encourage GPs to come to Oxfordshire to work. Similar campaigns are being run in other areas of England.”

A growing number of struggling practices are choosing to hand back their contract to NHS England due to financial or recruitment issues.

Last month, partners at the North Bicester Surgery in Oxfordshire announced that they would close the practice for good on 30 September after the withdrawal of MPIG funding made it ‘financially unviable’.

Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign

Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

Pulse has been pressing for immediate support for vulnerable practices across the UK since 2014 through its Stop Practice Closures campaign.

NHS England announced a new tranche of £16 million of funding to support struggling practices this year.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt first announced the fund in his ‘new deal’ last year, and NHS England said in December that practices with poor CQC ratings or higher-than-average referrals and prescribing would be prioritised.

But Pulse has revealed that practices are still closing, with one practice closing while it was waiting for vulnerable practice funding.

Other notable recent practices in danger include four GP practices in Lincolnshire, which the local trust is taking temporary charge over, four practices in Brighton and Hove servicing  over 10,000 patients having to close after funding was pulled through the review of PMS contract, while Essex LMC has warned that almost one third of practices have considered handing back their contract in the county.

Patients in one of Birmingham’s poorest areas will have to walk for 20 minutes for a GP appointment as their nearest practice will close this month after the CCG failed to retender the contract.

Read more about the campaign here

Readers' comments (29)

  • i'm sure a doh 'spokesperson' will be wheeled out to say surgeries open and close all the time, government pouring money in, 5YF endorsed by RCGP, GPs valuable contribution etc etc

    the press will blame GPs for being able to retire ('golden' pensions), lazy (cutting sessions), refusing to work for the glorious public (choosing not to commit career suicide with partnerships), and being ill (not resilient, wrong type of GP)

    personally i welcome it - the public need to decide do they want to fund healthcare properly or are they happy to watch as their services disappear. this is in effect what Chris Hopson was basically saying. fund it or lose it.

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  • Not that long ago going on strike was an option for the profession...
    This idea was scrapped as deemed too risky and unsafe

    At least going on strike leaves the public with a diminished service for a static period of time - a day or two - no more....

    However when you lose valuable partnerships, which is happening throughout England and Wales (particularly) you have forever lost what you had. Corporate organsiations talk about the loss of high quality intellectual and functional capacity... This is what this is.
    As each practice hands in their contract you have irrevocably lost something essential, vital and of great value...
    There is no going back

    Whose eyes and ears need prising open...?

    Enough... When is enough enough?

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  • GMS is not able to financially compete with PMS\APMS for effective staff.

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  • The corner shop model is dead. Long live the supermarket. This is what the people want and that is that. Stop moaning and start joining those primary care hubs/trusts.

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  • There is a simple solution of course. 7 DAY WORKING. Apparently, this will attract more doctors and be better for patient care. Because we have enough staff to be able to do the 5 day service really well. Await comment from NHSE and also DOH with above as a solutions, as well as the usual "5000 more GP#s, 10000 more nurses, 15000 more practices, 20,000 billion more funding" while the nose of the announcer just grows exponentially.

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  • News is something that is surprising and exceptional. Practices closing down and handing back contracts is the norm now. Why is this news?

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  • ...."5000 more GP#s, 10000 more nurses, 15000 more practices, 20,000 billion more funding" while the nose of the announcer just grows exponentially." Can we add Boris Johnson's £350m a week additional to the NHS to this list?

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner15 Sep 2016 12:08pm

    According to Ivan, that is precisely the reason younger GPs will want to come into the profession.

    I'm yet to see the logic and I'm not sure if Manchester GPs see it as well...

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  • and the premises are let to the GPs and owned by Assura so the partner signatories on the lease will be liable for the rent if/until a new provider takes over.

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  • And those of use who own our surgeries and are "last man standing" with MPIG disappearing and a financially unviable practice are destined for potential personal bankruptcy.
    While MPs are reinstating their soft-landing payments when they leave parliament.

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  • No wonder Cameron is giving up politics in Oxfordshire. Bit to close to home all of this mess he has created

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  • Where are there the altruistic legions of locums, the general practice heroes, to save this poor practice?
    Perhaps, Dr Nabi may have some views on the matter.

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  • Not surprised. It is DOH's plan to ensure practices fail in the long run with all the rules and the unfavourable climate to practice medicine. Jezza must be leaping with joy.

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  • Ditch the contract comrades

    Ditch the college comrades

    Ditch the cardigans comrades

    DITCH THE COUNTRY COMRADES!!!!

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  • A 50% cut in funding share over 12 years is tantamount to a straightforward announcement.The DOH does not care about GPs or general practice. Otherwise they would fund it. They would rather go to war.
    We must just leave when and if we can. No body cares a button in the DOH.

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  • 11 years ago I had a partnership interview in Banbury. I thought it would be a lovely place to live and work. Apparently, many other GPs thought so too because I didn't get the job.

    How times have changed. It's a really sad day when even desirable places like this can't recruit.

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  • http://m.plymouthherald.co.uk/three-plymouth-gp-surgeries-could-close-in-bid-to-save-money/story-29639056-detail/story.html

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  • The cynic in me would say that the GPs having made their money through large list sizes have now done a runner.The "difficulty" in recruitment may well have been deliberate under recruitment to amass vast sums in the shortest possible time.

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  • Not surprise , We referred a patient in my practice for a 2WW suspected cancer , to be told no cancer , removed from 2WW and placed for OP appointment in 3-4 months . 2 weeks after declin the 2WW patient back , sent for U/s to show metastatic liver metastasis?????😂😂😂😂
    We all working in an impossible way , get blame if we miss diagnose where no services are available , how difficult to order MRI scan ?
    The other disaster is the MDU payment . If the government needs to keep Gps surly needs urgently interfere with this ASAP 😂😂😂

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  • They came for the single-handed practices, but I wasnt a single-hander, so I did nothing..
    Then they came for the small corner-shop practices, but I wasnt a small corner-shop practice, so I did nothing..
    Then they came for me,
    And nobody did nothing...

    If 18,000 - 25,000 in a rural area like Banbury is folding up, the supermarket / Hub model is NO INSURANCE of a viable future

    The GP crisis is a national disaster and nothing short of a total disgrace.
    Why, when the (quite rightful) Junior Doctors action is mentioned in dispatches, does no-one point out that there is not a general practitioner in this country who wants to continue working under the current yoke which we carry. The public do NOT know what is happening, until they find the shutter down permanently at their practice.

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  • General Practice as we know it is 'on the ropes' and if we want to see quality primary care for ourselves and our family into old age, radical action is needed.
    I am fundamentally against the caring professions taking industrial action, but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that there is little else that will make the 'powers that be' sit up and really listen. What a sad state of affairs...

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  • It's very easy for those that do not practice medicine, to fundamentally disagree about their point of view. But we really don't care what your fundamental thoughts are.

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  • Earlier in the week it was come to Cumbria now its come to Oxford - we are so way past the tipping point that pretty soon even the Daily Mail won't be able to paper over the cracks- biggest act of governmental vandalism ever.

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  • Disaster: we have well passed the point where GP can be rescued, in our patch in NI we are looking at total decimation of GP right now and we have collectively done an ostrich and watched on as our profession has been destroyed as well as total destruction of local primary care, we have done nothing to stop this horror unfolding, shame on us all for letting this happen

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  • Sad for those who passionately gave up so much of their lives for the noble profession and their patients.

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  • Vinci Ho

    A bit surprised to see something more 'realistic' about GPs on Sky News:

    http://news.sky.com/story/chronic-shortage-of-gps-putting-patients-at-risk-10583249

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  • Let's congratulate JH and NHSE - another scalp to their credit. No guesses where Cameron will land himself the next job- he's resigned for a reason.

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  • this as said above is an incredible national disgrace..the mismanagement of the nhs especially in England over the past 6 years has led to this disaster...it has been causing and will cause enormous patient suffering and it is absolutely unnecessary...whilst untold billions have and are being wasted on 2012 aqp endless failed privatisations and outsourcings pfi and the internal market---all of which unacceptable bigoted delusional non evidence based political claptrap..our elderly languish and die from hospital acquired illness whilst waiting weeks for massively cut community social care to find placements..our sick wait far too long for hospital appointments and at aed and at overstretched general practice..there are unnecessary deaths due to underdoctoring and undernursing in hospital.
    disaster it is..all that huge experience and hard won patient/gp understanding over the years lost
    massive brain drain to civilised countries to escape the lunatic wrecking bullying autocratic regime in this country which acts against all evidence and against all professional advice and worse totally disregards the opinions of patients and the electorate.
    patients do NOT want to be served by noctors or temporary drs in large hubs who do not know then from adam..this is a very poor service and the lack of therapeutic kmowledge of a patient by not knowing them leads to a far poorer less efficient form of practice.
    if this is happening in leafy oxford suburbs this is truly terminal.
    worse than that the nhs was redisorganised in 2012 diametrically opposite to the mandate given... this is followed now by the STP managementbabble for cuts that had actually been discussed in 2013 but not put in the manifesto as it would have lost the election..now explaining why these stealthy plans have been in secret and will be announced as a fait accomplis with the usual faux pretence at 'engagement' with the public with a 2 second response time..after which they will proceed with their mad schemes anyway.
    I feel NHSE and DOH are completely out of control not accountable to anyone except their private health links.
    I would think that the slow motion collapse of the whole English nhs should demand mass resignations at nhse and replacement by competent leadership and obviously the resignation of the absolute national disgrace of mr runt.
    this whole government should in fact go down and I feel there should be a national enquiry into health policy in the last 6 years and on what evidence base and democratic base it has been persued..obviously a lot on the base of the most imbecilic ideologically blinded delusional extreme right wing bigotry but also there is an overwhelming stench of alleged corruption in parliament..individuals responsible for this national scandal must be held accountable.
    words fail me..never did I expect to see after 30 years as a doctor such evil psychopathic filth in charge of the DOH....how can they even THINK of front line cuts when they are wasting multibillions as above???
    the current mismanagement of the nhs makes me vomit with fury..i hope the inevitable tidal wave of anger when the electorate wakes up to how they have been lied to will drown the conservative party for ever.

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  • Surely services user take some responsibility. The work load is immense, though a bigger proportion is worried well, sick notes, benefit and housing letters etc.
    Closing practices does not deprive the public of health care. It will all fall on OOH door step, so the government is not concerned about it because patients will still be seen somehow.

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