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Cornish GP practice hands back contract citing financial difficulties

GP partners at a practice in St Austell, Cornwall, are due to hand back their contract to NHS England citing financial difficulties.

As per NHS England procedure, the contract will now go out to tender in the hope to find another provider of GP services the 10,000 patients of the Polkyth Surgery.

The closure comes as Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign has unveiled over 100 practices across England are at risk of closure due to the squeeze on GP funding. However the local area team said the practice closing was not due to ‘external funding arrangements’.

A notice on the practice’s website said: ‘We can confirm we will be ending our contract for GP services. We will remain open while NHS England put in alternative arrangements.’

‘Discussions are under way with other potential providers, with the aim of ensuring that patients notice as little difference as possible when our contact is transferred. Please be assured that there is nothing to worry about in terms of your continuing access to GP services.’

‘NHS England will inform you when the new contractor takes over. We apologise if this is unsettling, it is with great regret that we have decided to relinquish our contract, having made many friends and supported the community for so many years. We would like to thank you for your loyalty over that time. Thank you for your support.’

A spokesperson for NHS England’s Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly area team said: ‘We can confirm that partners at the Polkyth Surgery in St Austell will be ending their contract for GP services. However, the surgery itself will remain open as usual while we work with the practice to put alternative arrangements in place to make sure patients are not affected.’

‘Discussions are already under way with another provider, with the aim of securing continuity of care and making the transition as smooth as possible. Patients can continue to make and take up appointments as usual during this time.’

The spokesperson added: ‘The practice has told us it has financial difficulties and therefore cannot continue with its contract. This is nothing to do with external funding arrangements or the minimum practice income guarantee, under which the practice gains.’

The GP partners at Polkyth Surgery could not be reached for a comment.

Readers' comments (10)

  • it'll be interesting to see how this works?

    I can't imagine they'll be many volunteers - especially if partners own property etc

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  • I'd appreciate Pulse looking into this in a bit more detail. It suggests that there might be a way out for similar practices for whom the risk/reward balance has reached its tipping point. I know one big fear a lot of GPs have is that they will be left holding the baby if their partners leave first.This obviously has big implications for debt liability. If there is a relatively painless way , if all partners agree, to pass on the responsibility to the health board without leaving patients or staff high and dry then maybe this is our passport to freedom. I'm sure they will be only too desperate to take on the ex-partners as locums. After all, no-one in their right mind would want to be a partner.

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  • I believe that if no new provider is found, the staff redundancy and lease exit costs are your personal liability.

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  • @3:46 - does that mean that the people administering the practice in the meantime (NHSE) are not allowed to do anything with staff etc?

    I am sure the current partners would be liable if they just closed the surgery, but once it is passed over to NHSE do they not take over liability in the same way as if a new partner replaces an old one?

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 13 August 2014 4:05pm

    this is all new territory, the legal rules are yet to be established.

    I guess we'll have to wait a test case, but once NHSE take over and agree to fund the staff they would usually become legally liable. If the practice just closes then the holders of the contract become liable

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  • This is very interesting as a locum you can now earn more than a partner so economics will dictate handing back contracts all over England and the collapse of the hubs that provide community care.Pulse needs to publish a running list of closures many of which are not reported as a banner on its front page,if we can dodge the closing down costs it makes sense for everyone if not now in the next few years as Hunt tightens the screws

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  • Most thinking of going to 60 when the lifetime limit is reached at 55 could be doing it for more as really time to go

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  • General Practice is in Crisis - ridiculous this is not headline news.

    Dave doing well to keep it quite prior to election.

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  • *quiet

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  • when my practice closed on my retirement and the PCT realocated the 4000 patients the redundancy costs to me were circa £35000-most of the staff were reemployed locally in NHS but I still had to pay the redundancy-I could not face any more aggro -besides many had worked with me for 20+ years
    the practice building sold for developement and I went abroad for a year and am now doing locums in UK
    --life is so much less stressful as a locum although the income is less than my last years in practice
    so give it back take a hit and be happy!

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