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One third of practices considering handing back their contract in one area

General practice in Essex is on the brink of collapse, the LMC has warned, after finding that almost one third of practices have considered handing back their contract.

Essex LMC’s survey of GP practices saw 31% respond that this was something they had considered, while a staggering 90% described their workload as unmanageable or unsustainable.

Worryingly, more than eight in ten practices, 85%, said they were seeing the quality of service deteriorating as a consequence, the survey of 151 practices in the county showed.

In all, 83% of practices said they are currently unable to provide enough appointments to meet the demands patients, with over half of respondents, 62%, confirming that the future viability of the practice was at risk.

The survey further uncovered 106 current GP vacancies and 62 GPs planning to retire within 12 months.

In a bid to create a safer, more effective healthcare environment, over 76% of Essex practices surveyed said that they would consider limiting the number of patient contacts, the LMC said.

It warned that if general practice did collapse in parts of Essex the inconvenience to patients would be ‘huge’ and it would be impossible for hospitals to cope.

Essex LMC chief executive Dr Brian Balmer said: ‘It is clearly evident, and has been for some time, that NHS England has repeatedly failed to address the serious and very obvious problems facing general practice in Essex.’

He also directed criticism against NHS England’s ‘success regime’ programme which is currently operating in the county, saying it was ’far more interested in the financial deficit of hospitals than… investing in models of safe, sustainable primary care for the residents of Essex’.

Essex is one of three areas, alongside Cumbria and northeast and west Devon, which were ‘diagnosed’ by NHS England last year as having a ‘long term systemic imbalance’ in structure and financial viability.

Calls to rescue general practice

The survey results come as a landmark study published in the Lancet earlier this month said general practice in England is ’reaching saturation point’.

And the GPC last week published a list of actions it wants to be taken to bring general practice in England back from the brink.

The ‘urgent prescriptions’ for general practice included putting a limit of the number of patient contacts per GP per day, a definition of work that is not covered by the core contract, and an overhaul of CQC regime to focus on practices where concerns were raised.

The calls have come as the Department of Health and NHS England are in the final stages of preparing their roadmap for general practice rescue package.

The rescue deal has been delayed, having initially been planned for February, as a suggested £110m package was branded ‘inadequate’.

 

Readers' comments (23)

  • Once the contracts have been handed back then Virgin or UHC can take over. That is the plan. I only hope it happens soon so that people can see how bad the service will be and maybe the rest of us can be saved as a result

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  • Until politicians of all persuasions have the moral courage to unite and tell patients that unfettered access to "free at the point of demand" healthcare is no longer sustainable, we will go from bad to very much worse.
    Essex is just one example of where the graphs of rising demand and falling capacity have intersected:the "NHS" as a paradigm has failed.

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  • PM 9am Back of the net!
    I am only in practice as none of the local practices have closed- if they do I won't cope, if they close I close. No crying wolf it will happen.

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  • DOH immune to talk of crisis. GPs and medical media partly responsible. An unpredicted event such as bird flu will finish system in some parts of the country I suspect. Do what is right for your practice.

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  • I work in the end of Essex with arguably the least issues. I know of several takeovers to avoid collapse, and several no one will touch which will go to the wall. Parts of the County have 60% single handers all reaching retirement. The major issue for many is that NHSE are refusing to tender on anything less than 4500 patient, so partners are left with the redundancy costs.

    We are co-ordinating. This is just the opening gambit.

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  • You do realise that the DoH cannot afford to 'care' about the NHS...the NHS of course is being run by Beaurocrats with bimbo's at the helm!

    Now who is going to invest in a sinking ship!...any bids?

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  • I suspect that the reason that the threat of returning contracts has not become a reality is that the first partnerships to do so will simply find their patient list transferred elsewhere and be left with the financial nightmare of winding up a partnership.

    Only when it comes crashing down everywhere and secondary care/neighbouring practices cannot shoulder the burden will a proper rescue package appear. This will be too late for those who have already folded.

    We are in the same boat here, lots of work behind the scenes to hand back our contract, but no way we will do so until either we have no alternative, or we can TUPE the whole mess over to someone else and avoid putting our homes at risk to fund practice closure.

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  • Oh, and 9am - not just crying wolf. Resigned from my partnership last week at just 41 years old. That makes 3 of us who have decided to go in the last 2 months. I'm not willing to cross my fingers and hope it will all be fine any more.

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  • I agree with 9am .It appears we are just crying wolf, we have said it over a 1000 times.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I agree with 0900. You need to take action, like I did. All the time it creaks on, nothing will happen. "31% have CONSIDERED....."
    Meaningless. I've considered flying to the moon, only to dismiss the idea.

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