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We cleaned up on minor surgery

Early last September Primecare sent me a letter saying they would stop providing deputising for the patients in my locality of south London.

There was a period of confusion as to when the closures would take place until it transpired that the Bexleyheath branch would close on January 1 and the Croydon branch on November 1.

Primecare said they wanted to ensure a smooth handover, but the closure of the Croydon office was fairly abrupt, giving little time for GPs to make other arrangements. In Lewisham alone some 10 GPs were affected by the closures and in the light of such uncertainty I decided to act in the interests of my patients and opt out sooner rather than later (ie November 1).

In doing so I believed Primecare would not be so unreasonable as to hold me to the letter of my contract and insist on me paying its advance contract service charge up to January.

I was wrong. Primecare has billed me for £718.20 for November even though I have been with them (and previously Healthcall) for more than 20 years and have paid my bills promptly. I would have expected Primecare to be more understanding and flexible about my need to make alternative arrangements for out-of-hours patient care.

I consider that I don't owe Primecare that money. Legal action is threatened.

Have other GPs had this sort of experience after a deputising company closed a branch? How have other GPs coped with this fairly sudden and unexpected loss of deputising?

Dr Bill Lettington

London SE13

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