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Practice hands back contract citing ‘impossible’ funding situation

A four-partner practice in Ayrshire is handing back its contract to the health board because it can no longer continue with ‘impossible’ levels of funding.

In a letter to the practice’s 7,800 patients, GPs at the Glencairn Medical Practice said that it was with ‘immense sadness’ that they have had to resign from their GMS agreement and from 1 August, the practice would be the responsibility of the local health board.

The letter, which is also published on the practice website said: ‘Unfortunately due to a range of pressures, running of the practice with the present funding stream has become impossible.

‘The partners sought support from NHS Ayrshire and Arran; however, there were not sufficient resources to sustain the practice in its current form.

‘We have been left with no reasonable alternatives that will allow us to maintain our clinical standards.’

Eddie Fraser, director of East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership confirmed there had been negotiations to try and find a solution for the practice, which ‘covers a large geographical area’.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran will advertise for a new contractor, they confirmed, and ‘if necessary will take over the running of the practice directly’.

Just last week, Dr Gerald Burnett, a member of Fife LMC, warned the Scottish health secretary at the annual BMA conference that practices were facing severe difficulties and more urgent measures to support the profession were needed.

He said Fife is currently 19 whole time equivalent GPs short and due to retirement this has the potential to rise to 30 over the next year.

Speaking to Pulse after news of the latest practice to fold he said: ‘The problem we have is that the new contract will hopefully come in on the 1st April 2018 and even if very successful it will take a year to have an effect.

‘It is a pity it has taken so long to negotiate the new contract. We are in limbo. If you are a fairly stable practice you can keep going but practices can run into problems quite quickly because GPs leave and you can’t get replacements.’

Dr Burnett said practices in Fife had so far avoided closure, despite a near miss, but ‘it would not be unexpected in the next year’.

‘Of particular concern is when the practice hands the contract back the patients are allocated to surrounding practices who are already at capacity and worried about safety.’