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10,000-patient practice to hand contract back in crisis town

A 10,000-patient practice is set to hand its contract back in Plymouth, Pulse has learnt.

GP partners at Mannamead Surgery in Plymouth, which has a patient list size of about 10,000 people, have announced plans to end their contract to provide GP services.

NHS Devon CCG said that the contract will be taken on by a new provider, which it is in discussions with. 

However, local leaders warned that it is likely to be an APMS contract, which increases costs for the NHS and could have been used to support GMS contracts. 

Pulse reported last year that one-fifth of practices in Plymouth have either closed or handed back their contract in the three previous years, which has left 34,000 patients without a fixed GP.

It came as part of an analysis looking at where general practice across UK towns, including Brighton and North Ayrshire in Scotland, was on the brink of collapse.

NHS Devon CCG director of transformation Jo Turl said: ‘Our priority is to ensure all patients of Mannamead Surgery have ongoing access to local GP services after the practice partners let us know they would like to end their contract to provide general practice services.

‘We are pleased to say that we are currently in discussion as to how and when the contract will be taken on by a new organisation. This means patients will continue to receive GP services in the same building at Mannamead and there is no need for them to take any action.

He added: ‘In the meantime, all services continue at Mannamead and patients should attend appointments as normal. We are writing to patients with further information this week and will keep them up to date with developments.’

Dr James Boorer, a GP partner at Pathfields Medical Group in Plymouth, said sustained underfunding in primary care across the country has contributed to increased pressures GPs are now faced with.

He said: ‘I’m really saddened to see Mannamead hand back their contract. The doctors there are extremely hard working and dedicated individuals who go the extra mile, not just for their patients but the wider health system as well. 

‘I suspect the hand back represents the ongoing pressure facing primary care not just in Plymouth but nationally. The pressures facing primary care are crystallising out in hot spots like Plymouth with practice closures – 15% of the patients in Plymouth are now managed by care taker organisations – but these organisations require markedly more funding to keep going with NHS digital data showing payment of £162 to £197 per patient for these handed back contracts versus about £110-£130 for a normal GMS contract.’

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport Luke Pollard said the lack of funding have left the provision of primary care in Plymouth in a ‘state of crisis’.

He said: ‘Many GPs in Plymouth often work long hours, 12 or 13 hours a day. They do so out of dedication for their patients and for the health service but they cannot be expected to do more with less.

‘Plymouth primary care is in a state of crisis. Our GPs are working to the point of exhaustion due to the lack of funding and resources, not just in primary care but throughout the whole system.’

He added: ‘GPs are getting to the point where they cannot go much further and I think it’s something we’ve witnessed in relation to the amount of practices hand backs that we’ve seen across Plymouth.

‘Around 15% of the Plymouth population is now covered by non-GMS primary care, that’s where a contract has been handed back and an emergency provider has stepped in. This should worry the taxpayer as well as those organisations because those organisations consume far more resources than normal primary care does, two to three times as much.’

In 2017, Pulse revealed that the 22,000-patient Ocean Health partnership in Plymouth was forced to close its patient list, after its partners handed back their contract because of rising patient demand and a shortage of GPs.