Practices in a north London borough are being asked to take on thousands of patients because NHS England has been unable to transfer the contract of a closing practice for ‘legal reasons’.
The Bingfield Street surgery in Islington, run by Dr Hannah Flinders, is due to close on 29 May. She is understood to have been off work for nearly a year, but now wants to retire.
NHS England told Pulse that it has written to 13 neighbouring practices, as it has been unable to transfer the contract to neighbouring practices for ‘legal reasons’.
It did not state what these legal reasons were, but Pulse reported last year that NHS England was unable to hand out GMS or PMS contracts for GPs to take over the contracts of closing practices because of procurement regulations.
A spokesperson for NHS England (London) told Pulse that the sudden nature of the Bingfield closure was due to Dr Flinders ‘requesting a reduced notice period when she resigned from her contract’.
The spokesperson said: ‘We understand that some patients will be saddened to hear their practice is closing but for legal reasons we are not able to transfer the contract to another GP and keep the practice open.’
NHS England (London) has already written to patients to update them about the closure and have suggested that they choose to register at one of the 13 other GP practices nearby, which between them currently have space for around 14,000 additional patients in their catchment area.
Also in Islington, the Mitchison Road Surgery and its patient list will be handed over to NHS England at the end of July, after the three GPs that work at the practice resigned from their contract due to ‘pressures around the lease of premises, retention and recruitment of clinical staff, finances and workload’.
A spokesperson for NHS England (London) said: ‘No decision about the future of the practice will be taken until we have completed a thorough engagement process with patients and stakeholders. We want to hear patients’ views and held two meetings for those registered with the practice on the 23rd April 2015.’
Patients are expected to be informed about the outcome of the consultation by the middle of June. Although closure is one option, the practice could be saved if another organisation was brought in to run it from the current premises.
These are the latest in a long line of practices that have had to close.
As part of the Stop Practice Closures campaign, Pulse revealed that 78 premises had closed as a result of practice closures or mergers in two years.