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16,000 patients set to lose their GP practice over holiday period

Some 16,000 patients will lose their GP practice over the holiday period, as five practices are set to close across England.

Four practices, with a combined patient list of 10,700, are due to close in Lincolnshire on 16 December.

The Burton Road, Pottergate, Arboretum and Metheringham surgeries had been managed on a temporary basis by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust since previous provider Universal Health Limited went into liquidation this summer.

Universal Health said the practices became financially unviable due to recruitment problems, which had left them increasingly dependent on locum doctors, with NHS England running an unsucessful tender for the APMS contract.

NHS Lincolnshire West CCG said in a statement: ‘Applications were received and have subsequently been evaluated by an independent evaluation panel.

‘But unfortunately, the bids did not meet the minimum criteria for a contract to be awarded for the provision of services.’

Meanwhile the 5,300-patient St Martin’s Surgery, in the Knowles area of Bristol, is set to close in early January unless NHS England finds a new provider.

The surgery has been run by neighbouring the Crest Family Practice since 2014, when the partners at St Martin’s handed back their contract after ‘exhausting all other options’ to keep the practice afloat.

But now the Crest Family Practice has also thrown in the towel, with GP partner Dr Lesley Ward saying that it is ‘with sadness that we announce the fact that Crest Family Practice is no longer able to continue working from two sites’.

NHS England said that local practices, including another site operated by Crest Family Practice, would register St Martins’ patients and encouraged them to ‘register before Christmas’.

The closure comes just over two years after NHS England provided a £100,000 bailout to try to prevent the practice from having to close.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We are very much aware that primary care services in South Bristol are under pressure, and so the area as a whole will be receiving wider resilience funding to make services sustainable for the long term.’

As previously reported, St Martin’s had struggled with a lack of purpose-built premises and inability to recruit GPs.

And when handing back the contract in 2014, former partner Dr Hollie Hardy warned that unless a longer-term solution was found to recruitment woes, the St Martin’s Practice would not be viable, saying that ‘if other practices can’t recruit either, they’ll be swamped’

Pulse has been calling for emergency support to be made available to preserve practices on the brink through its Stop Practice Closures campaign.

But although NHS England partially addressed this in the GP Forward View via a revamped ’resillience programme’, GP leader have said more immediate support is sorely needed.

Pulse has also revealed that senior NHS England managers in some parts of the country have suggested smaller practices should be left to ’fail and wither