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Three health board-run practices to be handed back to GP groups

A GP-led community interest company is set to take back the contracts for three health board-run GP practices in Wrexham. 

In North Wales, where Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been forced to take on contracts for numerous practices, officials confirmed that Hillcrest Medical Centre, Forge Road Surgery and Borras Park Surgery in Wrexham will return back to GMS status under the management of the Community Care Collaborative, a community interest company.

Recruitment and retention problems have been particularly acute in the North, with BMA representatives reporting that locums in health board managed practices are facing unacceptable workloads.

The three Wrexham practices have been run by the health board since 2017 following issues including a number of GPs retiring early or terminating their GMS contracts with the board. In January, the board announced it had started negociation to hand back these surgery to an alternative provider so that they could have permanent GPs.

Dr Karen Sankey of the Community Care Collaborative said: ‘We are delighted to have this opportunity. Our vision is to work collaboratively with agencies, voluntary and community groups and patients themselves to deliver a model of primary care that provides for the social, emotional and medical care of patients at the point of need.

‘We will build on the best of general practice enhanced by new and innovative ways of working. We will focus on early intervention and preventative work and identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable and socially isolated groups.’

The health board said the contractual arrangements will be finalised ‘over the coming months’, with Hillcrest Medical Centre transferring ownership in July, Forge Road Surgery in September and Borras Park Surgery in November. 

Pulse revealed in 2017 that six of the 25 practices in Wrexham handed back contracts, with the health board taking over. The LMC then expressed concerns over three more practices, pointing out these ‘managed practices’ cost around a third more to run.

Last year, more than 24,000 patients in North Wales had been forced to move to another GP in the previous five years due to their practice closing down.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government announced plans to train new doctors in community-based medical places in North Wales earlier this year to try to attract GPs to the area.