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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Hospital in mass takeover of GP practices will soon have 70k patient list

Exclusive A hospital is soon set to provide GP services to a list of 70,000 patients, as almost 40 GP partners opt to become salaried for the trust.

The Royal Wolverhampton is planning to take over the running of five GP practices – which are as yet unnamed – in the next three months, employing all 17 partners as salaried doctors.

This comes after it already took on seven practices, and 20 partners, in April, under an open-ended pilot scheme to run GP services.

Local GP leaders said the GP partners were motivated by financial ‘non-viability’ and workforce shortages, with the move viewed as ‘handing over the problem to someone else’.

Speaking to Pulse, the hospital’s clinical director for primary care Dr Julian Parkes said the five practices would come under the trust ‘subject to satisfactory due diligence’.

He claimed the motivation behind the move was to ‘join up’ working between primary and secondary care doctors and community care.

He said: 'We all recognise that we cannot continue to work with the system as it exists now, as all areas are under a lot of pressure with rising healthcare needs.

'[This scheme] provides a way of taking resources in terms of money and staff and deploying them in a better way across the health community for the benefit of patient care.]'

But Dr Gurmit Mahay, medical secretary of Wolverhampton LMC, said the GP partners had been left with little choice but to give up their independent contractor status.

He said: ‘All of these practices seem to have some degree of either financial non-viability, [due to either] partnership dispute or chronic shortage of staff. So they see this as handing over the problem to somebody else.’

He added that the partners were also seeking a way of ‘getting rid of CQC and liability’, with the ‘salaried mentality’ allowing GPs ‘off the hook’ at the end of their shift.

However, Dr Mahay warned that this was ‘over optimistic’ and that the partners would put themselves at risk by giving up their GMS or PMS contracts, even with a right to return.

He said: ‘It may not be financially viable to come out in three years because the enhanced services won’t come out with them.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA's GP Committee, urged struggling practices in a similar position to attempt to 'retain their independence and their ability to manage their affairs' and 'without necessarily changing from their current contractual position'.

He said: 'For some practices that are really struggling – struggling to recruit, finding it difficult to manage their practice – having the support of a larger organisation can be beneficial but not for other practices.

'[But] we need to make sure that those practices who are moving in this direction have looked at all of the options available to them and make the decision in an informed way.'

Hospital takeovers of GP practices

Swathes of GP practices have been taken over by hospital trusts in the past year, as Pulse has reported:

Readers' comments (25)

  • What is the transfer process here?

    Under the GMS contract they will still need a nominated partner. If transferred over to APMS it must go out to tender.

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  • very sad to hear this our independent contractor status is an important motivating tool going salaried will devalue the workforce and future Gps will become even more undervalued than before.

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  • I think they make the trust a partner - having a GP on the board satisfies that a GP must run it - and then they can all resign.
    More worrying is that RWT will have a significant vote in the CCG - the same CCG that is supposed to hold it to account.
    Also have heard trust cant get GPs to work to their rules and GPs have same workload with less pay (and absolutely no control)

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  • Couldn't the BMA itself offer a solution by developing a virtual GMS/APMS contract for practices to join? If this route is possible one has to ask the question, does one trust the BMA? Individual GPs may still have to be salaried. It may be no better than a hospital trust holding the contract. However if Dr Vautrey genuinely thinks there is an advantage in maintaining independent GP contracts, the BMA could look at managing all the backroom functions, such as CQC, payroll, HR, referrals etc. This would be similar to how some GP Federations are set up. There are numerous examples of this in the private sector, NISA supermarkets, franchise companies...

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  • Let me guess, the affected patients are not enamoured with this plan.

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  • Cobblers

    Love to know the capitation payments for this Contrick by Royal Wolverhampton.

    Anyone in the locality care to do a FOI request?

    This is so public that 'business sensitive' excuse cannot be used.

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  • Payments to practices for 15/16 available online

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  • So the wheel finally turns full circle! When I started as a consultant in 1983 hospitals and GPs were all under the same umbrella, called the Area Health Authority...

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  • Except GPs have always been independent contractors - of the AHA then - no salaried GPs - this isnt full circle it's GPs becoming employees as are consultants

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  • These Gps aren't worried about going salaried, as most will be retiring in 3-4 years. This is also about succession planning (or no plan), as there is no one to replace them once they've gone.

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