The practice where CQC chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field is a partner has had to consider removing 75 patients from its practice list after struggling to recruit GPs.
Professor Field said his Bellevue Medical Centre in Birmingham had to take the action following the recent retirement of two partners – whom the practice has failed to replace amid the current shortage of GPs – and has been struggling under rising demands.
As a result, it had to stop treating patients from a nursing home, which was outside its catchment area.
Professor Field said: ‘Following the retirement of two partners at the Bellevue Medical Centre and the rising demand for services, there has been increasing difficulty to continue to treat patients who live outside the practice catchment area. As a result, the difficult decision to de-register patients who are located further away is having to be considered.’
‘The Andrew Cohen Nursing Home is about four miles away from the Bellevue Medical Centre and falls outside the catchment area. For an inner city practice this is a long distance. The home is located 50 yards away from another large, high quality general practice, the Riverbrook Medical Centre, and there are several other practices nearby.’
He said his practice has held several meetings with staff at the Riverbrook Medical Centre, who were ‘happy to provide care to the home’ and ‘ensure a smooth transfer with no disruption to care’. He also said the shift would benefit patients because the other practice was geographically closer.
However, he added: ‘Practices should not be de-registering patients unless there is a genuine need to do so. All practices have a duty to treat local patients regardless of any condition, age or support needs they have .’
A CQC spokesperson added that ‘there have been difficulties in recruitment… with the current ongoing shortage [of GPs]’.
It comes as Professor Field showed his support for nursing home patients earlier this year when he hit out at some GPs for apparently charging a fee to see them.