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GP practice threatened with breach notice for failing to cooperate with PCN



EXCLUSIVE A GP partner has been threatened with a contract breach notice by his CCG for ‘not cooperating’ with his local primary care network, despite not being a member of the PCN, Pulse has learned.

Dr Sashi Shashikanth, a GP principal of two small GMS practices in Hillingdon in west London, has been given a deadline of today (17 January) to agree to cooperating with the PCN.

In a letter seen by Pulse, NHS Hillingdon CCG warned Dr Shashikanth on 9 January that if he did not work with the PCN assigned to his practices by the CCG, it would be considered a breach of contract.

The CCG had previously contacted Dr Shashikanth in October warning him it was a contractual requirement for practices to assist PCNs, by sharing data, even if they had not signed up to the network DES.

But Dr Shashikanth, who runs the 4,700-patient West London Medical Centre and 2,600-patient Church Road Surgery, told Pulse his patients do not want their data shared with third parties, nor did he see the ‘advantage’ of joining a PCN.

The GMS and PMS contract for 2019/20, released in May last year, said practices are contractually obliged to cooperate with PCNs ‘whether or not’ they are signed up to the network DES.

It said that non-PCN practices have a duty to inform patients of changes to PCN services, be ‘party to appropriate data sharing’, and to share non-clinical data with PCNs.

Dr Shashikanth said his assigned PCN wants to write to patients promoting services, despite his patient participation group agreeing it did not want their contact details to be shared.

He said: ‘The PCN that the CCG chose to be my partner – without my consent – has written to me requesting names and addresses of all my patients because they want to write to my patients informing about “new services”.’

He added: ‘Data-sharing agreements are not compatible with GDPR. The principle of duty of cooperation works against GDPR as duty of cooperation insists on data-sharing agreements.’

Dr David Jenner, a Devon GP who recently resigned from his role as PCN clinical director, also said he was aware of contract breach notices being handed out.

He said: ‘Some poor GPs are being threatened by their CCGs with breach of contract over these clauses under guidance issued by NHSE.

‘So even if you opt-out of the crazy workload associated with PCNs you still potentially have to attend meetings and share data with the PCN to provide the DES services to your patients.’

A spokesperson for NHS Hillingdon CCG reiterated there is a contractual requirement for practices to cooperate in allowing their patients to access PCN services.

They added: ‘As part of ongoing communications we have requested confirmation that this practice will consent to work with the local PCN to allow their patients to access PCN services.

‘The deadline given was for the CCG to receive confirmation of cooperation from the GP contract holder. The GP not cooperating to allow his patients to access the PCN services would be considered a breach of contract.’

Earlier this week an NHS England official admitted that changes need to be made to the proposed network DES specifications.

The RCGP wrote to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens recommending to ‘begin the process again’ of drawing up the service specifications.