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Seven GP contracts under review as CCG ponders closing or merging practices

A CCG in the North West is considering the future of seven GP practice contracts serving nearly 30,000 patients.

NHS Wigan Borough CCG has launched a consultation as seven APMS contracts, held by three different providers, are coming to an end.

The CCG said it needed ‘to understand if we still need those practices to do what we originally contracted them to do or whether the needs of the areas have changed’.

The consultation considers, for each of 12 branch sites, whether the CCG should ‘end the contract’; ‘renew with updated contract’; ‘merge with updated contract’; or, ‘renew with additional requirements… to offer more services for more patients’.

According to the consultation document the CCG has already concluded that it would be ‘safe’ to end the contract for six of the branch sites.

It also speaks of the benefits of merging branches and changing the terms of the contracts.

It says mergers ‘could help us deliver services more efficiently across several areas that have similar needs’ with this meaning ‘we could potentially get services that are better value for money’.

It adds: ‘By reviewing the contracts, we can make sure we are only paying for services that the local areas need and that we are paying the appropriate cost for them.

‘That might mean paying more for some services and less for others depending on local area needs, but it will mean that money is being spent better and we are getting more value from it in local areas.’

The CCG said it will definitely renew some contracts but was likely to change the terms, likely to merge some of the contracts and likely to end some for the contracts and close some branches. It said this was ‘because we need to make sure that local GP services are sustainable, safe, well-staffed and value for money’.

It added: ‘Where we can close a practice and it wouldn’t have a big impact on the accessibility of GP services and the amount of patient choice, it would be a sensible thing to do.’

NHS Wigan Borough CCG chair Dr Tim Dalton told Wigan Today: ‘It is really important that we understand what impact our decision may have on the patients, carers and staff at these practices and that’s why we are holding this consultation.

‘I urge as many people as possible to take this opportunity to talk to us about what this might mean for them.’

The contracts are held by Intrahealth, Dr Alistair Partnership and the Leigh Family Practice, and the consultation concludes 1 February.