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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)

  • 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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