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GP co-op takes over out-of-hours for 300,000 patients after provider collapse

Exclusive A GP-run out-of-hours and urgent care cooperative has agreed to take on an extra 270,000 patients with less than a week’s notice.

This comes after urgent care provider Primecare announced at the end of November that it would be withdrawing from the market and terminating all of its out-of-hours contracts at short notice.

The company provided out-of-hours services on behalf of a number of Birmingham and West Midlands CCGs and was also directly contracted to provide out-of-hours services on behalf of around 20 Birmingham-based GP practices.

As of this weekend, GP-owned out-of-hours cooperative Badger has taken on the out-of-hours services contract for NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, and 12 of the independently contracting practices.

Including five practices which have given up their individual contracts and joined the CCG contract, this totals 41 practices with a joint 270,000 patients.

Badger, which is jointly owned by 90 GP practices local to the area, previously covers out of hours for 187 practices, with 1.1m patients in total.

Medical director Dr Fay Wilson told Pulse that the decision to add hundreds of thousands of patients just before Christmas would take a toll but that local GPs had seen no other way forward.

She said: 'Altogether we are taking on 270,000 extra patients... and that’s right before Christmas. We don’t have any additional clinical workforce to do it, you can’t magic them...

‘Christmas is always slaughter, and the way the system works now, people do not expect us to be an urgent care service, they expect an immediate care service.'

She added: ‘But if we didn’t take these practices on, where else would they get cover? There are very few providers now.'

As previously reported, Primecare gave GP practices just 10 days' notice that they would be terminating services.

According to Dr Wilson, this left some practice managers deciding to personally pay the deposit to join Badger as their GP partners were away and ‘there was no one to authorise payments’.

And she said that while Badger will take on these out-of-hours contracts, patients may still be affected.

Dr Wilson said: 'There are going to be knock-on effects, especially on NHS 111 because Primecare provide a lot of the GP telephone conversation for that.

'There aren’t any extra doctors, Primecare’s doctors are scattered all over the country, and they are just going to disappear into a national provider or their local areas.’

She added: 'The difference between us [Badger] and a commercial is that we are here, come rain or shine. And even if we did go bankrupt, the GPs are still here, in the community.’

NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG chief executive Paul Jennings told Pulse: ‘Badger Group have confirmed that they are able to manage the out-of-hours services for these practices.

'Patient access to GP out-of-hours services should not be affected by the transfer of these services.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • Well done Fay and all the Badger team, hope it doesn’t cripple your service

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  • Cobblers

    As well as the practice joining fee there should have been a big fat premium from the CCGs for pulling their coals out of the fire. After all where else would they have gone?

    If not you may have compromised the service to the rest of Brum.

    Not p!ssing on your chips but OOH services run on money which is in short supply and Christmas is premium time.

    COI Ex OOH Medical Manager.

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  • Thanks 1.50pm we will do our best, as always.

    3.15pm we know how many beans it takes to run an OOH service and even as a social enterprise we can't run on empty.

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  • No good deed goes unpunished in the NHS. I hope the arm-twisting was accompanied by a significant premium to attract clinicians to the service.

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  • thank goodness for core GPs providing such a reliable service. We lost our local GP coop when private companies underbid it then provided a minimal and now frankly unsafe service. OOH is in meltdown and yet it gets very little publicity. The fact that the poor public have to get through the 111 barriers is all that is preventing complete collapse.

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  • OOH where I work- patient calls 111, 111 calls 999, 999 calls GP, patient deteriorates whilst all this is happening, GP visits, GP calls 999, patient attends ED, patient waits 10h to be properly assessed, patient self discharges.

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  • Long standing LMC member.....successful business woman, Amen!

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  • Look up the drama triangle. Too many rescuers in the NHS

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  • Vinci Ho

    Best of luck truthfully , Fay
    The government had created a hostile environment for out of hours GPs to survive. Despicable.

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  • Congratulations to Fay Wilson and Badger for taking on this challenge . Were it not for the madness of Brexit this exemplary failure of private sector provision, and of government policy on and funding for OOH GP services, would be front page news.

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