This site is intended for health professionals only

‘Controversial’ £37m plan to move seven GP practices into three new health centres approved

‘Controversial’ £37m plan to move seven GP practices into three new health centres approved

Plans to relocate seven GP practices into three new health centres in a Yorkshire city have been given the go-ahead, despite concerns raised by local councillors and patients.

But while the ICB thinks the plan will boost retention, GPs have pointed out that patients could struggle to reach the new hubs.

The Sheffield project was awarded £37m to ‘transform GP practices across the city’ as part of £57.5m allocated to primary care bids across South Yorkshire.

The funding is part of a £1bn increase in NHS capital spending by the Government, and South Yorkshire ICB said that said most of the money will be used to build the new health centres in the city, ‘in areas that need them most,’ and to bring GPs and other services ‘under one roof.’

Dr Ben Allen, a GP and NHS South Yorkshire’s clinical director for primary care in Sheffield, said that the new buildings alone ‘won’t solve all the problems facing GPs’ but that the ICB believes the new health centres will be an ‘opportunity to attract and train more staff, create more space to increase services on one site, improve access and keep people well.’

The ICB consulted with patients and received more than 5,000 responses to its plans to move nine GP practices into new buildings by next year.  

The ICB’s final plan, agreed by the board last week, is to proceed with the development of proposals for:

  • Burngreave Surgery and Sheffield Medical Centre to relocate to a new health centre on Spital Street, S3 (next to Sheffield Medical Centre).
  • Page Hall Medical Centre and Upwell Street Surgery to relocate to a new health centre on Rushby Street, S4.
  • The Health Care Surgery, Buchanan Road Surgery, and Margetson Surgery to relocate to a new health centre on Buchanan Road / Wordsworth Avenue, S5.

After considering feedback received from staff and patients as part of a consultation, the ICB agreed that a previous proposal for Firth Park Surgery and Shiregreen Medical Centre to move to a new health centre at Concord Sports Centre will not go ahead, and that the centre will not be built.

Dr Allen said: ‘We understand that some Firth Park Surgery and Shiregreen Medical Centre patients may be disappointed that the Concord Health Centre won’t go ahead.

‘We continue to work with practices in this area to address the issues that formed the basis of the proposals as well as the issues that we heard during the consultation.’

Gavin Boyle, chief executive at NHS South Yorkshire, said: ‘We believe the best way to support people and improve their health is to bring services together and wrap them around patients, helping to keep them well, independent and out of hospital.

‘The new health centres would allow us to improve health facilities for local people as well as tackling health inequalities in the city.’

The ICB said that the next steps are to develop more detailed plans for NHS England approval in order to access the funding.

It added: ‘We will also be involving local communities in the design of buildings including disability stakeholder groups and young people to co-design finishes.

‘We are also working with building design guides for people with certain needs such as those with dementia and autistic spectrum disorders.’

Professor Andrew Lee, a GP and professor of public health at the University of Sheffield, said that there is a concern that with consolidating those practices into health centres it may make it more inconvenient for patients to assess the clinics, especially for those in deprived neighbourhoods.

He told Pulse: ‘There is no one magic solution that fits all needs and satisfies everyone. The flipside is that many of these practices have not had major investment and improvements to their physical buildings for decades.

‘It makes it increasingly difficult for them to deliver a full range of services from outdated buildings, with insufficient rooms or facilities.

‘This new development, and new investment, is a rare opportunity for these practices to modernize their infrastructure.

‘There are economies of scale of developing them all together in fewer sites, and I suspect more economical to run as well – important considerations as health funding these days is so tight.’

He said that issue of more difficult access for patients can be addressed to a degree by making greater use of new ways of working, including video and phone consultations.

He added: ‘I think it is increasingly difficult for modern primary care to operate in a way like neighbourhood post offices or corner shops or parish churches of old, so the need for consolidation of the health estate may be needed in many (but not all) areas depending on need and context.’

In the past, Sheffield councillors raised concerns about the plans, saying that patients in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods would be ‘hit the hardest’ due to a lack of public transport to the areas planned for development.

A document detailing the business case for the project shared ahead of the board meeting last week said: ‘Whilst the projects have been developed to this stage with the support of Sheffield City Council, negative perceptions emerged during the early communication and engagement process, that has prompted significant concerns to be raised by a number of locally elected councillors.

‘Whilst there has been good progress in communicating and sharing accurate information on what is proposed and the outcomes for patients, there is currently a hiatus whereby Sheffield City Council officers are unable to progress instructions to the design team without committee approval.

‘An urgent meeting between stakeholders, the leader of the council and respective local councillors is being arranged.’

Speaking at a public meeting in March last year, Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, who represents Firth Park on Sheffield City Council, said: ‘Are we absolutely sure that the quality of care is not going to be affected? There’s four very busy GP practices that we’re thinking of consolidating.

‘Even though we’re proposing new health centres it means the closure of the smaller localised provision.

‘It goes against everything we stand for in the council in terms of localising provision and making sure that communities are a central part of every decision that we make in terms of that care and our support.

‘This is about people who are vulnerable, who will be ill, who need localised support within their community. It doesn’t put patients at the heart of delivering care.

‘I feel very saddened that this is going to further disadvantage communities. I don’t see any evidence or information that this is going to improve the quality of care.’

Construction is due to start at the end of the year, with GPs and patients expected to start using the new buildings from late 2024.

Meanwhile, a GP practice in Lancashire could be taken over by a private provider despite concerns raised by staff and patients who feel they have not been sufficiently consulted.



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

paul cundy 14 February, 2023 6:35 pm

Dear All,
£37 for how many patients?
Was an options appraisal conducted, one option being giving the £37 million pounds to the practices (can you imagine what we could do with that amount of money?)
Paul C

Douglas Callow 14 February, 2023 7:14 pm

over £10m a building Sounds pricey

Bonglim Bong 15 February, 2023 8:12 am

Paul Cundy – looks like about 43000 patients in total.

You are absolutely correct -it is a huge amount of money.
If you double the global sum paid to your practice it would make you service infinitely better. That amount of money would double the global sum for about 10 years (once you include a tiny bit of interest).

David Jarvis 15 February, 2023 9:23 am

But who is getting the £37million? PFI lining pockets of tory chums? Or is this a cost rent deal with the GP’s?

Truth Finder 15 February, 2023 10:45 am

What a waste of money. Good luck staffing it. They might as well build a new hospital and shut all GP practices. So much for local walkable access.

Long Gone 15 February, 2023 12:47 pm

This is exactly the sort of pendulum swinging wasteful nonsense that you’ll see in the commercial world:-
“Centralise!” (Economies of scale),
“Decentralise!” (Local responsiveness),
and repeat ad nauseam…
Nostalgia aside, there’s no more efficient and humane a way to deliver good sound primary care than with a small group (pick your number) of GPs running their own practice (business) and having a smaller list of patients (pick your number) such that continuity of care and knowledge of their patients’ problems and foibles is a realistic source of demand management.
One day we’ll rue this abomination of agglomeration and smaller practices will spring up again.

Dermot Ryan 15 February, 2023 1:07 pm

Someone is having their pockets lined. This ICB rubbish is another vehicle for empire building and preparing the way for privatisation and employment of salaried GPs. The incumbent directors of such a scheme will have their share marked out and pocket loads. Very wasteful and not likely to improve care

David Evans 15 February, 2023 4:54 pm

Just having a little look at the comments while EMIS restarts after another freeze, crash , “computer says no” moment….and breathe….

Centreground Centreground 16 February, 2023 11:15 am

As we have seen with poor NHS primary care management over decades the most inept individuals have now moved either to becoming Clinical Directors paid tens of thousands for doing secretarial work or onto ICB boards . They lead in a few areas only i.e. mismanagement , incompetence and misuse of NHS taxpayer resources

John Evans 21 February, 2023 10:57 am

Value to a degree depends on the size of the buildings.
Is it 120000sq ft?

When I left partnership the premises developers were touting enormous buildings.
(Re)Incorporation of other primary elements such as nursing, midwives, community mental health, pharmacies and urgent care may be involved.

Conveniently would be the sort of model that a private company may wish to take over.

Let’s hope it will not become turkeys voting for Christmas.