A GP provider company has announced it is handing back a joint contract for five GP surgeries after it was told it faces funding cuts of up to 20%.
The Practice Group, whose five GP surgeries across Brighton – including one for homeless people – have 11,400 registered patients combined, said it would be ‘impossible’ to continue running them after the proposed funding cuts.
But the local CCG said the PMS contract is currently funded at a higher rate than GMS practices and that discussions were continuing.
A spokesperson for NHS England South said it has ’written to patients to reassure them that we are working to secure alternative arrangements for their care’.
NHS England regional teams and CCGs have until the end of the 2015/16 financial year to conclude reviews of all PMS contracts across England.
Last week Pulse reported that four senior partners at a practice rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC were forced to quit a practice in Essex after an NHS England PMS review saw funding for the surgery cut by £400,000.
A spokersperson from NHS Brighton and Hove CCG told Pulse that The Practice Group had given NHS England ’notice of termination of contract’ prior to their funding review’s conclusion.
The PMS contract that the company holds covers the Brighton Homeless Healthcare, the Whitehawk Medical Centre, the Willow House Surgery, the Hangleton Manor Surgery and one based in Boots in North Street,
A CCG spokesperson said that ’a proposal had been put forward to reduce the extra funding the current PMS agreement provides these practices in a staggered way over four years’ but that it was ‘subject to further discussions and not a definite decision’.
She added: ’This extra funding equates to 20% more than the funding received by other practices in the city via GMS contracts.’
Although neither party has revealed what the funding proposal entailed.
It will be impossible to run these surgeries
The Practice Group said in a statement: ’The planned significant reduction in funding going forward that follows from the PMS review means that, in our view, it will be impossible to run these surgeries under present contractual arrangements.’
A spokesperson for NHS England South said it has ’written to patients to reassure them that we are working to secure alternative arrangements for their care and are continuing to work with NHS Brighton and Hove CCG to identify the available options’, with all patient feedback to be ‘taken into accunt in reaching a final decision about how to guarantee their future care’.
The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas has also waded into the row, arguing it was ’vital that established GP surgeries should not be dismantled because contract negotiations with private companies falter’.
She urged NHS England to review the merits of each of the five practices individually, with the contracts ‘put out to tender so that other local GPs can run them as branches or GPs can bid to run them themselves’.
She said: ’It’s the responsibility of NHS England to find a solution to allow the surgeries to remain open, and that’s what I’m urging them to do.’
NHS Brighton and Hove CCG chair Dr Xavier Nalletamby said: ‘Patients registered at these practices do not need to take any action at this point and will continue to receive care at their surgery as normal.
GP practice closures continue
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This is the latest practice to be facing potential closure, a trend that has been highlighted by Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign.
Last week, Pulse reported another PMS practice that GP partners – whose practice had been rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC – have handed back their contract in Essex after an NHS England funding review saw funding for the surgery cut by £400,000.
This month, six practices in England and Wales told Pulse they were considering closing due to GPs retiring early or becoming ill, leaving over 25,000 patients facing the prospect of moving practices.
Pulse revealed last year that more than 160,000 patients across the UK were displaced as a result of their practice closing in just two years.