This site is intended for health professionals only

GP practice forced to hand back contract after ICB pulls £70k in funding

GP practice forced to hand back contract after ICB pulls £70k in funding

Exclusive A Lake District GP practice which struggled under the weight of workload related to unregistered tourists has now decided to hand back its contract.

An MP had previously said that the Central Lakes Medical Group had lost more than £70,000 of its income from seeing up to 2,500 tourists not registered with the surgery.

However, it has now emerged that the practice had been receiving £73,000 annually in atypical funding, which local commissioners have pulled in favour of piloting a dedicated tourist service.

In June this year, NHS Morecambe CCG decided to reduce that funding to £588, according to a document seen by Pulse.

GP partners at the practice warned Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – which took over commissioning last month – that this would make the practice unviable.

They jointly put forward an alternative proposal with another local organisation to keep it going for the sake of local patients, however the ICB rejected the plan at a meeting last Thursday.

In a message to patients posted on the practice website, GP partners Dr Paul Davies, Dr Kaye Ward and Dr Paula Cook said: ‘With much regret we must inform you that due to a number of factors outside the control of the partners, we have resigned our [GMS] contract, handing it back to Lancashire and South Cumbria [ICB].’

The ICB has now put the practice out to tender and appointed a caretaker to take over once its six-month notice period has concluded.

Speaking to Pulse, a spokesperson for the GP practice said the ICB’s decision had left it with ‘no option’ but to hand back its contract.

The spokesperson explained that Central Lakes Medical Group, covering an area of over 200 square miles in the Lake District, has an unusually low-weighted list which is 15% lower than the average Cumbrian rural practice.

It also does not receive funding from dispensing, because the large number of tourists makes it viable for pharmacies to exist in nearby rural villages.

The practice is often a walk-in centre for urgent treatment given that there are ‘no other local facilities’, and the travel times of getting to other services, the spokesperson explained.

Therefore, in 2018 – following the withdrawal of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) – the CCG and NHS England provided the practice with atypical funding to ensure it was sustainable. 

At the time, they said this would remain in place until alternative solutions were agreed, according to the practice.

However the spokesperson said not only was this not honoured, but the dedicated tourist service was designed without input from local GPs.

They said: ‘The design of the pilot did not involve input by practices or PCN. The only funding available to practices was to provide additional sessions specifically for tourists which needed to be booked via the triage service.’

‘The practice would no longer control the triage of tourist access to its service.’

As a result of the reduced funding, the GP practice would have had to try to earn the money by doing extra work and incurring additional cost. 

The practice spokesperson said: ‘That is not a viable solution for a small practice and continued uncertainty meant it was left with no option.’

Handing back the contract was ‘not the [GP partners’] preferred route and any new incoming organisation will struggle with the funding on offer to provide the services needed in the area,’ they added.

‘Funding is needed for services for residents, not just tourists. The cost to the NHS of pursuing the option of going out to tender is likely to exceed the cost of what was needed to support the practice to remain viable as a GP-led partnership.’

The Central Lakes Medical Group consists of Ambleside Health Centre and the Hawkshead Medical Practice – the latter of which Pulse has followed over the course of MPIG losses. In 2017, patients raised £30,000 in a bid to try to keep their local surgery.

Dr Peter Gregory, associate medical director for NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB, told Pulse that the ICB is ‘working with a number of primary care networks across the Morecambe Bay area to develop services to support their patients’.

‘GP practices that share local geographies and similar patient populations work together to identify and implement services which support GP practice resilience and offer benefits for both registered patients and those visiting the local areas.

‘The Grange and Lakes PCN have an allocated budget which exceeds previous investments in the area.’

The ICB also said it is working with the practice to ensure a smooth handover of services, with a caretaker provider to run the practice from January until March next year, by which time a new GP provider will be confirmed.

‘The ICB is committed to ensuring that all patients within Lancashire and South Cumbria continue to have access to high quality general practice services,’ an ICB spokesperson said.



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

Azeem Majeed 10 August, 2022 10:24 am

One outcome that we can be certain of is that is that the costs to the ICB of running the practice will be higher than if they had continued to support the practice in the same way they had done in the past.

Patrufini Duffy 10 August, 2022 2:02 pm

No value on seniority, experience and continuity. All slogans that mean nothing.
The UK is hell bent on practice closures and vertical USA based integration. Clap clap.

Nicholas Grundy 10 August, 2022 8:23 pm

“The ICB is committed to ensuring…” – how? Robots? Aliens? Magic beans?

In urgent care, tourists are charged back to their local health board / CCG / ICS. But GP is just free, so who cares, right?

Samir Shah 10 August, 2022 8:31 pm

Reading between the lines, what the spokesperson may mean is ‘We are committed to ensuring that all patients within Lancashire and South Cumbria eventually have no access to continuity of care and general practice’

Samir Shah 10 August, 2022 8:49 pm

‘The Grange and Lakes PCN have an allocated budget which exceeds previous investments in the area.’ = No funding to the practice, which is sad, as funding the practice would’ve ended up being much more cost effective and continue to provide high quality general practice services.
Hang on….isn’t that what the ICB just said they’re committed to?

David jenkins 10 August, 2022 9:55 pm

no real surprises here ! they did the same sort of thing in my single handed, rural, dispensing practice in wales in 2007 ! a public meeting was called, during the course of which the LHB (same as PCT in england), claimed “the practice was not financially viable”. cue hoots of laughter from several locals, who pointed out that i had several classic cars and an aeroplane – and it “looked very viable from where they were sitting”. all ignored, practice closed.

Northern Trainer 10 August, 2022 10:25 pm

Wonder what the icb wages add up to??

Northern Trainer 10 August, 2022 10:29 pm

What did the evidence show about the viability or impact of 10yrs of expensive CCGs?? How many of any given icb used to sit on a CCG??? hmmmmm…..

Samir Shah 10 August, 2022 10:43 pm

Does the ‘I’ in ICB stand for Idiotic?

Anthony Gould 9 November, 2022 6:23 pm

The partners are hopefully working as locums on higher pay rates and choice of holidays
Off the hamster wheel at last ?
Once you resign and hand your contract back life -work balance dramatically improves!!
Shame for patients but sadly no value to seniority, experience, continuity of care etc even though evidence is that this means better health outcomes
1984 story for the NHS with downward spiral
Those can do, those that don’t demolish the system and do not recognise what is important