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Former GP principal stopped from saving practice due to ‘procurement laws’

A GP surgery in Richmond has had to close after NHS England rejected a senior doctor’s offer to take charge of the practice in place of the departing GP principal because of procurement processes.  

Deanhill Surgery in East Sheen shut its doors on 31 March despite a campaign from patients and staff in which a former partner offered to save the practice by running it himself.

Dr Antoine Sayer, the GP principal at the practice, told NHS England in January that he wanted to terminate his contract.

Patients were then sent letters saying that the practice would close within a month. A reprieve was granted in February but it proved temporary.

In a separate development, the practice was placed in special measures by the CQC on 5 March.

Dr Roger Weeks, who was the sole principal contractor at the surgery from 1992 to 2012 and who postponed his retirement in 2011 when the practice had faced a previous threat of closure, told the Richmond and Twickenham Times that he believed about 1,000 of the practice’s 1,900 patients were not registered with another GP.

He said that the medical records of around 1,000 patients who were not registered with another GP could not be transferred without access to the practice’s computer, which he said had been ‘seized’ by NHS England.

He added: ‘It is extremely serious in the way they have been let down by NHS England. I think NHS England could have done things they said they couldn’t do.’

A spokesperson for NHS England (London) said: ‘NHS England consulted with patients on the options for the surgery including the findings of the recently published CQC report on the services delivered from the Deanhill Surgery. NHS England has to follow procurement process when awarding contracts and it was not possible to consider the existing salaried GPs holding the contract without a tender process which would take between 6-9 months to conclude.’

Defending the closure, the spokesman added: ‘Many patients have registered with neighbouring practices. There are five neighbouring practices, all within a 1.2 mile radius of the former surgery premises. Patient records have been removed for safe-keeping and will be transferred to patients’ new GP practices when they have re-registered.’

It comes after Pulse revealed last year that NHS England had said all new GP contracts will be opened up to competition in a move that GP leaders warned marked the ‘death-knell’ of traditional life-long general practice.

Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign last month revealed there had been a 500% annual increase in the numbers of practices asking NHS England for information on potentially closing or merging.