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Revealed: Rump of practices being left behind by GP consortia

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: A clutch of Darzi centres, single-handed practices and commissioning refuseniks are among a rump of practices being left behind in the formation of GP consortia, Pulse can reveal.

Our investigation has identified a string of isolated practices yet to join a pathfinder consortium in areas where the majority of practices are already pushing ahead with GP commissioning.

The news suggests GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman’s warning that some isolated practices may have to form ‘consortia for the unwanted’ could become a reality in some parts of the country.

Of 82 PCTs to supply data to Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act, 24 said all practices in their areas were signed up to a pathfinder consortium, while 16 reported that five practices or fewer had yet to sign up.

Those yet to join a pathfinder consortium include eleven single-handed practices and five GP-led health centres, including the Wilson Health Centre in Mitcham, south London, run by private firm Concordia Health, and the PCT-run All Day Health Centre in Wirral.

A spokesman for Concordia Health said it had been meeting different consortia but had not yet decided who to join, while a spokesman for the Wirral centre said it had yet to decide how to proceed with GP commissioning.

Dr Ivan Camphor, a GP in the Wirral and a member of the Wirral NHS Alliance consortium, denied practices were being intentionally being excluded from consortia. But he admitted local GPs viewed the GP-led health centre in a dim light because it was ‘wasting money on a white elephant’.

‘They should be de-commissioned unless they can demonstrate value for money,’ he said.

Some GPs said they were making a conscious decision not to join consortia because they disagreed with the reforms.

A GP at one of three practices in NHS Redbridge not to join a consortium, who asked not to be named, told Pulse he had turned down an approach from a local consortium and the PCT.

‘I have a feeling that it won’t last five years,’ he said. ‘I am not happy with the plans and I don’t want to be one of the first people to do it. If they drag me into that, or push me into that, then I will tell my patients that this is the situation.’

But Dr Peter Swinyard, a GP in Swindon and chair of the Family Doctor Association, said GPs would ‘have to start being a bit more grown up’ about working together.

He said: ‘There are always ostriches when there is change. But to ignore it and hope that it goes away is unwise. People will have to join consortia, whether they like it or not.’

Dr Peter Swinyard Where practices are being left behind:

1. Camden -1 practice
2. West Sussex -1
3. Salford – 1
4. Plymouth – 1
5. Western Cheshire -1
6. Sutton and Merton -2
7. Trafford -2
8. West Kent – 2
9. Sheffield – 2
10. Bradford & Airedale -2
11. Croydon – 2
12. Redbridge -3
13. North Tyne – 3
14. Wirral – 4
15. Derbyshire County – 5
16. South East Essex – 7
17. Newham -14
18. Walsall -16

Practical Commissioning

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Map showing which practices have been left behind

View GP practices left behind in the formation of commissioning consortia in a larger map