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27,000 patients could lose their GP as chain hands back contract

Some 27,000 patients are at risk of losing their GP practice as a provider has decided to hand back a contract it says is ‘not fit for purpose’.

Greenbrook Healthcare, which runs five practices in west London under one APMS contract, said it has been in discussions with NHS England since the beginning of the year to ‘address what support could be provided by them’.

But with no extra funding coming through, Greenbrook Healthcare – a private company which runs GP practices and urgent care centres across west and south London – has concluded that the best option is to end its 10-year contract nine months early, to ‘allow NHS England to look at the contract afresh’.

The provider said that ‘over time’ the contract covering the Hounslow-based Bedfont Practice, Manor Practice, Great West Surgery, Heston Practice and the Isleworth and Grove Practice has ‘become unfit for purpose, on the back of increasing demand and the GP recruitment crisis.

A spokesperson said: ‘Demand has increased, and the national shortage of GPs has made finding GPs ever harder.’

Greenbrook Healthcare said it expects NHS England to re-tender the contract for running the practices in July next year, and that it would have to look in detail at the terms before deciding whether to renew its bid to run the practices.

It added that it would try mitigate the impact of any changes to provider.

The spokesperson said: ‘In the scenario that a new provider takes over these services Greenbrook Healthcare will do everything it can to keep the impact on patients to a minimum, and to ensure high quality patient care remains a focus through to the end of the contract and beyond.

‘In addition, doctors, nurses and other staff would transfer to any new provider (under TUPE rules) minimising any changes that patients may experience.

Greenbrook Healthcare took over the management of the practices from Hounslow Primary Care Trust in 2008.

It says that it ‘has made considerable investment in the quality of the care delivered in these practices, greatly increasing the opening hours, the number of services offered and improving quality metrics such as QOF scores’.

A spokesperson for NHS England (London) told Pulse: ‘Greenbrook Healthcare has given nine months’ notice on their contracts in Hounslow and the contracts will now terminate at the end of June 2017.

‘We will be communicating with all affected patients shortly to ensure that they have their say on the future of their GP services in the coming weeks. We are working to ensure that disruption is minimal and we want to reassure patients that we will do everything we can to find a solution that provides the best possible care for the local community.’

The news comes as Pulse revealed this month that some NHS managers are proposing to allow vulnerable GP practices ‘to fail and wither’, and as GP practices are closing while waiting on support from the Government’s support funds.