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Thousands of patients to be displaced due to surge of practice closures next month

A spate of practice closures is scheduled for the next few weeks, displacing thousands of patients across the country.

A 10,000-patient practice in Manchester is set to close, with other closures happening in Suffolk, London and Halifax, Yorkshire, where four practices are set to close.

Pulse has previously revealed that practice closures have been increasing year-on-year, with almost 150 closing in 2018 - compared with 18 in 2013.

The current closures are mainly as a result of staffing issues, but the four in Halifax are due to the CCG deciding not to renew their APMS contracts - which has left neighbouring practices to pick up the displaced patients.

In Halifax, Meadow Dale Group Practice’s sites in Sowerby Bridge, Ovenden and Elland will all close, as will a branch of the Park and Calder Community Practice, with NHS Calderdale CCG set to register patients elsewhere. The CCG ran a consultation in November after stating the practices weren’t ‘good value for money’.

NHS Calderdale CCG chair Dr Steven Cleasby said: ‘We will write again to all affected households with more information on today’s decision and where appropriate let people know which new GP practice we have registered them with.

‘If anyone is unhappy with the practice we match them with, they are free to choose to register with another GP practice that serves their area.’

York House, in Heywood, Manchester, which is also home to a foodbank and provides care for 10,000 patients, will close down in March as it has struggled to permanently fill vacancies for two years after three GPs retired and one stepped down for personal reasons. This has also coincided with other staff being off sick or on bereavement leave. Another GP was also set to go on maternity leave.

Absences have meant that it would be ‘unsafe’ for the practice to continue providing care, NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG said. The number of clinical sessions it provided fell from 62 to 42 per week as a result of the shortage.

Practice manager Pam Ilnyckyj described the situation as being a ‘crisis’. The ‘national shortage of GPs has led to difficulty in recruiting permanent doctors,’ she said. The practice has been forced to rely on locums. 

The practice will not close its list but will instead redirect its patients to Argyle Street Medical Centre, which is a local surgery run by the same group. This move will ‘alleviate the pressure of staffing,’ according to the CCG. However, the foodbank will also need to find a new home.

In Felixstowe, Suffolk GP Federation has decided to end its contract to run Walton Surgery, citing difficulties with staffing. NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG were unable to secure another provider to take over, and prior to the closure planned for 31 March, Walton Surgery's 4,300 patients will be advised of which of three alternative surgeries in the town they have been allocated, on the premise of their postcode. 

Ed Garratt, chief officer of NHS Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG, said: ‘Whilst I know that not everyone will be happy with these new arrangements, I wholeheartedly believe this is the safest and best option for patients given the situation we find ourselves in.’

Meanwhile, Romford's Mungo Park Surgery will shut its doors on the same day, as its sole GP, Dr Sickan Subramaniam, is retiring. NHS Havering CCG explored ‘a number of options’ to maintain a GP presence at South Hornchurch Health Centre, but its small patient list size made finding a new contract provider impossible. Therefore, some of its 3,200 patients risk travelling four miles to replacement premises. 

A spokesperson stated: ‘We are therefore supporting patients to register at neighbouring GP practices so they are able to access the care they need. There are seven practices within 1.5 miles of Mungo Park Surgery, all of which are accepting new patients, and a further nine practices within four miles.'

Elsewhere, Brighton is facing further challenges within its provision of general practice. According to reports, a higher than average proportion of the city’s GPs are planning to retire in the next five to ten years. This follows 13 practice closures since 2015 in Brighton and Hove.

Readers' comments (15)

  • This is where it is all going. This pattern will continue round the country...

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  • Brighton is, and always was, a strange place. Lovely regency terraces, a dynamic street atmosphere but full of crime and drug issues. I'm still surprised it can't find young GPs attracted to this potent mixture.

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  • Not forgetting any potential amalgamations too?

    Not disrupted but a sea change in systems for the patients and staff which are trying to mitigate

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  • brighton - lovely place to visit for a holiday - just can't afford to live there. massive buy in and massive house mortgage together - no thanks.

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  • Not surprised as they have not improved the working conditions. CQC, GMC, NHSE, the great PCNs, removal of seniority etc. All not helping. Is it better or safer now?
    No one will help now. Pay to work and punished like Dr Bawa Garba helping in a busy unit. More will close.

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  • Luckily PCNs (which are partly there to 'stabilise general practice') will make this a thing of the past.

    hahahahhahaha

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  • There is no “national shortage of GPs.” There appears to be enough locums. The GPs want to work without the PCN crap and be paid in line with Australia and Canada. HMG refuses to admit this. Let the dominoes fall.

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  • 'What a con' is spot on.... its why Im down under..... a decent pay cheque, unlike back home...... easy access to investigations....... great climate..... less stress..... I think HMG is simply trying to throw enough people through the grinder in the hope enough sausage meat sticks to the wall to cover everything......

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  • Vinci Ho

    Swathes of scorched earth .
    The government and its subordinate authorities have been underestimating how far this can go before any ‘new order’ can be restored .
    Yes , I think there are GPs in the background to fill up the vacancy but they chose not to for the obvious reasons . This government could be ‘strong’ in terms of numbers but if you carry on treating people like sh** , you are on your own to face the consequences .
    The early sign of a rift in the relationship between the government(and its cabinet) and the civil servants is epitomising......

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  • Government plan working nicely. CQC, increased workload, financial risk with rate increases, pension reforms; all deliberate strategies to undermine the Partnership model.

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