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GP alliance in talks over joint 200k-patient contract with hospital and council

GP practices in Portsmouth are in talks with the local hospital trust and city officials about the possibility of signing a joint new GP contract covering 200,000 patients.

Under the draft plans, the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance of GP practices would retain their existing core GP contracts whilst also entering into a multispecialty community provider (MCP) contract together with Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth City Council.

Board papers from NHS Portsmouth CCG, which would hold the contract, clarified that the ‘virtual’ MCP contract will ‘overlay existing commissioned contracts through an alliance agreement’.

The plan would see GPs in the area offering extended opening hours, same day access to appointments and home visiting services.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said the MCP will focus on supporting general practice and reducing GP workload, ‘rather than the focus just being on reducing hospital admissions and A&E waits at hospital’.

He said: ‘So they’re developing things like same day access centres, home visiting services, just to take some of the load off general practice.

‘One of the beliefs is actually if we have more support in general practice it will reduce the load on the hospital because there will be less people going there because we can deliver more in the community and, therefore, general practice has a bigger say in what goes on and has a seat at the table.’ 

He added that in the longer term, the 200,000-patient Portsmouth MCP would look to team up with the other two Hampshire MCP pilot areas – Gosport and East Hampshire – to potentially form a fund-holding ‘accountable care system’ (ACS) in line with NHS England’s five-year plan for the NHS, covering a population of 400,000.

But Dr Watson said the plans were under ‘ongoing discussion between the CCG, LMC, trust and practices’, with no date set for when contracts would be signed.