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Practice run by private firm to deregister 166 elderly patients less than six months after taking them on

Exclusive: Private company The Practice is to deregister over a hundred elderly patients less than six months after NHS managers overhauled the terms offered to the private provider to provide an ‘enhanced care home service'.

The Practice will deregister 166 of 400 patients it signed up as part of the NHS Buckinghamshire pilot when the scheme ends next month due to them being outside the private provider's ‘catchment area'. The remaining 234 patients will be re-registered with The Practice's services.

The Practice's original bid to provide the care home pilot costed provision at £317 per patient per annum but under the pilot terms NHS Buckinghamshire offered only £85 per patient. The PCT said it was working with The Practice to find ‘a safe exit strategy' for the patients, who LMC leaders said would have to be housed at other local practices.

But the move has caused concern among GPs. Dr Paul Roblin, chair of Buckinghamshire, Berks and Oxon LMCs, said vulnerable patients had been ‘treated badly' and that he was in discussions to start a new care home LES to ensure quality of care was not compromised.

NHS managers overhauled the terms of the scheme in October and offered it to all local practices, after deeming The Practice's model to be ‘high quality' but ‘not thought to be sustainable', and after objections from local GPs that they had not been given the chance to bid for the work.

Ten local GP practices signed up for the pilot, due to end next month, and received the £85 per patient fee. NHS Buckinghamshire said in their cases, the patients were within the practice boundaries, and were not being re-registered.

Dr Roblin said: ‘The Practice took on patients originally outside its practice area because the care could be funded by pilot funding. Now it has implied all the patients it took on only six months ago need to be re-registered with local practices, having six months ago canvassed to register those very patients.

‘We believe it has behaved badly in messing around this group of vulnerable patients. We want practices who are going to take back these patients to receive additional funding for them because otherwise they won't receive appropriate care.' 

A spokesperson for The Practice said: ‘‘The patients falling in the catchment area of our three surgeries are staying with them. It's only the ones outside the catchment area who the PCT is helping us to register elsewhere.'