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Crisis GP practice loses five partners while taking on 2,000 patients

Crisis GP practice loses five partners while taking on 2,000 patients

A GP practice which has lost half of its GP partners in the last year at the same time as taken on 2,000 extra patients has told patients they can no longer expect continuity of care.

The Needham Market Country Practice in Suffolk has seen two GP partners retire, two leaving to move abroad and one GP partner leaving due to workload pressures in the last 12 months.

The situation follows the closure of nearby Claydon and Barham Surgery, which resulted in the Needham Market Country Practice having to take on over 2,000 additional patients in June last year.

‘We are doing our utmost to try and replace all GP partners that have left or are leaving. However, recruitment at this time is very difficult and taking longer than expected. For this reason, we need to change the way we work,’ the practice told patients in a statement.

Asking patients for their ‘patience’, the practice outlined temporary actions it has to take as:

  • stopping personalised patient lists;
  • closing its list for new patient registrations; and
  • limiting e-consultations.

The statement said: ‘It is with deep regret that we are stopping our personalised patient lists. Whilst we will endeavour to have the same clinician dealing with ongoing problems for continuity it is unlikely that patients will be able to speak to/see the same clinician for all their medical needs.’

It also acknowledged that ‘offering of a limited e-Consult service has caused great frustration to our patients’.

‘The reason we have to limit the number of e-Consults we receive each day is simply that the demand is far greater than the available appointments we can offer, this is before taking into account the telephone appointment requests we take,’ the practice said.

It went on to ‘request some help’ from patients at its ‘difficult time’, including considering ‘self-referral options’. It also provided the hospital phone number for chasing outstanding referrals.

And it asked patients not to chase blood results, which will be communicated if abnormal; and to only book appointments or make administrative requests of practice receptionists within certain time slots.

The practice added that it is ‘working closely with the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board to ensure provisions are in place to continue providing care to our patients’ and ‘holding regular meetings with them to keep them updated on our situation’.

Finally it said its ‘most important request’ is ‘for patients to have patience with our staff because the abuse they suffer is increasing’.

‘The abuse is happening over the phone, in person and on social media. Please remember our staff are human and are working their very hardest to keep the service running,’ the statement said.

‘Patient abuse is causing staff to leave which ultimately puts more strain on serving our patients. Please also remember that derogatory comments on social media about the practice hinders recruitment.’

The ICB declined to comment and Pulse could not reach Suffolk LMC.

Professor Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, said that ‘if one practice in an area is struggling to recruit, it usually means that other practices will also be in the same situation’.

‘Furthermore, when a practice closes, this puts pressure on the other local practices if they then have to expand their lists and cannot recruit the GPs needed to provide care for these additional patients. Despite the many problems facing general practice, NHS England is usually reluctant to let practices close their lists.’

And he warned more practices could be expected to be found in a similar situation.

‘We will see further problems like those experienced by the Needham Country Practice because of the number of GPs looking to retire or reduce their clinical sessions. Ultimately, NHS England needs to make the job of being an NHS GP attractive so that the recruitment and retention of GPs is improved,’ Professor Majeed said.

Pulse’s recent Lost Practices investigation, which revealed almost 500 GP practices have closed without being replaced since 2013, also reported on this ‘domino effect’ faced by GPs when neighbouring practices close.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 14 November, 2022 8:36 pm

Don’t worry, the universe and planet will be absolutely fine. This is positive news, a better life awaits. But, in other news, I am afraid many surgeries will now reap what they have sown, to the glee of corporates and US-based hawks: that culture of patient-first-staff second, bowing down and bending over nannying, PCN sign ups, extended hours, techno gimmicks and aimless meandering as sheep, free home visits, forgetting what is core and allowing the avalanche and floods to drown many others, for the sake of some little pocket money dangled like a mouse trap. Don’t worry the ICB and PCN will save you, apparently. (Dis)integrated and “working together”.

Gabor Szekely 15 November, 2022 10:17 am

The name of the practice -Needham Market – is very appropriate under the circumstances!

Dave Haddock 15 November, 2022 10:53 am

Amusing how touted solutions to managing workload, such as e-consulting and telephone consultation, actually increase workload in many practices.

Hank Beerstecher 21 November, 2022 8:20 am

“having to take on over 2,000 additional patients”. Reason is that since 2001 NHS PCO’s are not advertising vacancies in single handed practices, but choose to reallocate the patients of practices instead. Bigger is not automatically better in primary care, I was a single hander for most of my career as it limits the work to that of one GP, and it allowed me to manage the workload by managing my list.