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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Practice strikes deal to save inner-city surgery

A group of GPs have saved a new

inner-city practice sited 15 miles away from closure after a PCT was unable to recruit three salaried partners.

The endangered PMS practice in Liverpool was set up 18 months ago and was due to employ four salaried GPs but so far the trust has only been able to recruit one.

Dr James Kingsland's four-partner practice across the River Mersey in the Wirral is now being contracted by Liverpool Central PCT to provide 100 sessions a year and to be a mentor to the sole salaried GP, Dr Susan Gough.

The Wirral practice, a first-wave PMS site, had faced losing its own salaried GP because its PMS-plus services were being decommissioned. The pilot is the first of its kind and caught the attention of NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp after a visit to the region.

Dr Kingsland, a former PMS adviser to the Government, said his practice will act as mentor to Dr Gough by giving support, advice and inviting her to practice meetings.

It will also provide holiday cover and allow her to conduct sessions in their surgery if she needs a break from the strains of inner-city practice.

The GPs at Dr Kingsland's practice provide a half-day session every week on a rota basis at the Liverpool surgery.

They also help with staff training by allowing new receptionists and nurses to spend time at the Wirral practice. 'Dr Gough would have been out on a limb there,' said Dr Kingsland. 'I admire her because I wish I was the type of GP to take on that kind of practice.'

The benefit for the Wirral GPs is that they receive a fee that is higher than standard locum rates.

Dr Kingsland said: 'With locums it can be difficult to get them to prescribe to protocols, while we four partners are developing proper protocols for prescribing and using Read codes.'

Liverpool LMC secretary Dr Rob Barnett said he would have preferred local GPs to support the pilot. 'A full-time salaried GP can't work in total isolation and not be allowed time off.'

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