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Concerns over ICB decision to close GP practice before new health centre is built

Concerns over ICB decision to close GP practice before new health centre is built

A GP practice looking after 5,000 patients in Staffordshire will close down, after the local ICB decided not to reprocure its APMS contract as it is planning a new health centre in the area.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB said that Burntwood Health and Wellbeing Centre was opened as ‘a temporary solution’ in 2009, and it is planning to develop a new centre nearby to accommodate the displaced patients.

It said that the current surgery, which will close in March next year, is housed in a temporary building in the car park of the local leisure centre and that the ICB’s intentions have ‘remained consistent over the last nine years’.

But GPs and patients in Burntwood have raised concerns over the closure of the centre before a new one is built.

Burntwood’s centre GP Dr Manu Agrawal told Pulse: ‘It is disappointing that despite putting a lot of effort into providing care for our patients over the last five years, the ICB have decided not to reprocure Burntwood’s APMS contract.

‘Our staff and more importantly our patients have been very disappointed in this decision, especially in the light of massive shortage of GP services and GPs both locally and nationally.

‘Both our patients and us tried everything to work with the ICB to provide a solution to preserve continuity of care for our patients either with ourselves or with a new provider, with no extra financial cost to the ICB, up until the new health centre would be built.

‘Despite all options and solutions being discussed the ICB have decided to reduce patient services in the area, with the other surgeries facing similar pressures as most nationally.’

He said that the ICB have assured the patients that the new site will be ready by 2025, but that it ‘seems unlikely considering the last health centre built in the area took 10-12 years’.

He added: ‘However, as disappointing as this decision is, we are now working with the ICB to look at protecting and delivering our contract until March 2024 and continuing patient care.’

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David Raybould, who chairs the practice’s patient participation group, said the decision was ‘deeply concerning’ as no consultation had taken place with either the PPG or the wider patient group.

He said: ‘As a group, concern was raised with the ICB that the availability and choice of GP was to be reduced and patients dispersed to other practices in the area which anecdotally were said to have significantly longer waiting times to be seen.’

‘The PPG and wider patient group remain deeply concerned that the ICB’s decision to press on with the change will mean that all patients in the area will have reduced choice and significantly longer waiting times to see already overstretched GPs in the remaining practices.’

The new centre will be part of ‘considerable investment in primary care in the Burntwood area to meet the future healthcare needs of local people with the best services’, delivered from ‘high quality, fit-for-purpose buildings with the right resources’, the ICB said.

The ICB told Pulse: ‘[Burntwood Health and Wellbeing Centre] was a temporary solution while the estate in that area was further developed to accommodate patients in the future.

‘The ICB plan to develop a new centre in Cherry Close, very close to the current centre, in partnership with Staffordshire County Council. This is subject to approval of planning permission.

‘Staffordshire County Council are the owners of the site and will deal with planning and build schedule. The planning application is expected to be submitted in December 2023 with the outcome being known around May 2024.’

An ICB spokesperson added: ‘There is capacity for all the displaced patients in Burntwood’s other GP practices. There are four other practices within 2.5 miles of Burntwood Health and Wellbeing Centre including a new-build.

‘We have recently opened another practice in the area that was developed alongside the county council using exactly the same model as that proposed for Cherry Drive. So we have full confidence in the planning process.’

In May, an ICB was threated with legal action over its decision to close a 2,800-patient GP practice in Liverpool.

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Manchester found that practice closures are linked with reduced patient satisfaction with services at the surviving practices, which end up having more patients, as well as proportionally less GPs and funding. 



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

David Church 24 August, 2023 7:51 pm

Oh come on, surely a few thousand vulnerable elderly patients can sit safly on a shelf in a supermarket somewhere for a few (NHS) months while we demolish and rebuild a new PFI health centre? No harm could come to them surely? We did it with tons of PPE left over from the Flu pandemic, and it was still just about not too far from it’s ‘best before’ date for the Covid pandemic, what what difference a few thousand patients. They should keep just as well in a storage lockup, surely??
Anyway, this is the only way we can make enough savings off the drugs bill to be able to afford the bill for the biscuits for the meetings about the new health centre.

Nicholas Grundy 28 August, 2023 4:59 pm

So, NHSE and ICBs are saying publically that they’re all for continuity of care, and the longitudinal patient relationships which facilitate population health work, but in private they’re happily shutting as many practices as they can to drive people into large, faceless surgeries which don’t yet exist?

This has striking similarities to the events which did for disgraced former NHSE director of primary care Arvind Madan, when publically NHSE were talking about how important it was to support small practices, and using his pseudonym here he was saying we should be pleased that they close as it was the market behaving rationally.

It’s almost as if they aren’t actually in people/patients, nor health, but rather hitting financial targets in a spreadsheet somewhere.