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:
- All GP practices in Gosport expressed an interest in being taken over by the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. The hospital offered contracts to all 11 practices with six taking up the offer.
- A Pulse investigation revealed that hospitals were planning to take over contracts in four areas, including Gosport, Wolverhampton, Somerset and Humber. The GPs that were taken over by a trust went under the salaried model, citing workload pressures and fear of being the last GP in the practice as reasons for doing so.
- In Northumbria, every GP in a group of practices that became a subsidiary of Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust said they began meeting patient demand more effectively after joining the trust.
- In Bridlington, East Yorkshire, Humber NHS Foundation Trust took over Field House Surgery on 1 January 2017 for 15 months after its provider One Medical Group served notice that it would end its contract on 31 December.