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Single-handed GP to sue NHS England for closing his surgery

Exclusive A single-handed GP in northwest London is suing NHS England for terminating his contract, a move which has led to hundreds of patients signing an online petition in support of him, Pulse has learned.

GP principal Dr Paramjit Wasu, who ran into brief financial difficulties in January, has not been allowed by NHS England to re-open his surgery, despite vocal demands from patients.

An online petition to save Dr Wasu’s surgery, which held a list of 3,700 patients and had served the local community for 32 years, has received over 400 signatures and over 300 comments, with many former patients complaining that they are struggling to get appointments after being forced to re-register with other local practices.

The GP’s solicitor has told Pulse that they are beginning legal proceedings in an attempt to overturn NHS England’s decision.

The practice was originally closed on 29 January after Dr Wasu was declared bankrupt two weeks earlier in a matter unrelated to the practice.

However, in a meeting the day before the closure, Dr Wasu informed NHS England that his solicitors held all the finances needed to pay off his debts and he would be in a position to annul the bankruptcy immediately – which he did do six days later, on 4 February.

Despite this, NHS England made the decision to close down a practice with an immediate termination notice without consulting the LMC or patients.

Sukhbir Mall, a solicitor at law firm Neil Davies & Partners, explained that Dr Wasu had a full list of patients, had provided medical services to the community for 30 years and was a ‘hugely respected’ local GP.

Mr Mall said: ‘Dr Wasu is rightly challenging the lawfulness of the termination of his contract by NHS England. NHS England forced the practice to close by serving an unlawful notice when there was no real issues of patient safety. Dr Wasu and his patients feel that the decision was not in the interests of patients, the wider NHS or Dr Wasu.’

The solicitor claims that NHS England failed to act in accordance with the terms of the PMS contract and in its legal duty to involve patients in this decision making.

Dr Wasu said: ‘I am taking this action because my patients are demanding the right to have the GP of their choice and to protest about high handed and unaccountable way in which NHS England closed down my practice. Patients have continued to contact me for medical advice since NHS England forced the practice to close and they are running a campaign to try to persuade NHS England to change its mind.’

A message from NHS England on the practice website read: ‘Due to bankruptcy proceedings against Dr Wasu the practice is closed and no longer able to provide primary care medical services. This means services are no longer available at the surgery. NHS England has made arrangements for you to receive care from one of a number of alternative local practices on a temporary basis.’

The online petition to save the practice included a patient with the signature ‘Shah’ writing that it was ‘easy to get an appointment on time’ at the surgery, while ‘now I have to wait 2-3 days to get [an] appointment over the phone’.

Another patient, called Mark Geraghty, said Dr Wasu has been his parents’ GP for 35 years, adding: ‘The actions of NHS England have put my parents at greater risk. They should reopen The Wasu Medical Centre as a matter of urgency as the people who are really suffering at present are the patients.’

Other signatories pointed out that Dr Wasu is multilingual, which they say is essential in a multicultural area.

A spokesperson for NHS England in London said: ‘The Wasu Medical Centre was closed by the Insolvency Office due to bankruptcy proceedings against Dr Wasu, who was the sole holder of the contract. Due to the closure, Dr Wasu was unable to provide primary medical services to his patients which required NHS England to put in place appropriate measures to ensure continuity of care to patients.’

Londonwide LMCs said it could not comment because it was directly involved in discussions.