Four practices in Brighton and Hove which together service over 10,000 patients are to close after having funding pulled through the review of PMS contracts.
Pulse reported in January that The Practice Group handed back its contract for the five practices after PMS funding was cut by 20%.
Although the provider agreed to continue providing services past its contract in March, NHS England has now announced that the practices will close.
According to a letter sent to stakeholders from NHS England, patients at three of the practices will be automatically transferred to other GP practices when theirs closes in July, September and November.
The includes 4,000 patients of The Practice Whitehawk Road who will be able to attend a GP practice run from the same building.
However, the 2,000 patients at The Practice North Street will have to register for a new GP themselves after the practice closes in July.
The fifth practice currently run by the Practice Group is for homeless people, and NHS England is re-procuring this service.
Dr Julius Parker, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs told Pulse that he didn’t know why the CCG were not running a re-procurement process for the four practices, but he said: ‘I am aware that procurement for practice list sizes of 2,000 or 3,000 isn’t considered to be economically possible by NHS England; I presume that the CCG were concerned that they might not get a successful procurement programme.’
He added that the LMC has been trying to ensure that practices where patients will re-register get ‘adequate support for that additional workload and for the responsibilities that come with a surge in new practice registration’ although the decision for any extra support ultimately lies with NHS England.
A spokesperson for NHS England (South) said: ’In response to the decision by The Practice Group to give notice on their contract to provide services at five Brighton and Hove GP surgeries, our priority has been to ensure all affected patients have ongoing access to local care.
’We have now secured alternative care arrangements for patients from The Practice Whitehawk Road, The Practice North Street, The Practice Willow House and The Practice Hangleton Manor following further discussions with other GP practices, patients and local community representatives. We are writing to all affected patients to explain next steps and to support them in moving to a new practice.’
‘We are reprocuring services provided at the Brighton Homeless Healthcare surgery, so that we can appoint a new healthcare provider to deliver care to the vulnerable patients who use this surgery from the beginning of February 2017,’ they added.
Brighton has experienced other practice closures. When his practice closed last year, Dr Robert Mockett told Pulse in a heartfelt piece that it was like a bereavement.
Pulse campaigning for support for vulnerable practices
Copy of Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330
Pulse has been pressing for immediate support for vulnerable practices across the UK since 2014 through its Stop Practice Closures campaign. This development sees NHS England finally moving forward with their scheme.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt first announced the fund in his ‘new deal’ last year, and NHS England said in December that practices with poor CQC ratings or higher-than-average referrals and prescribing would be prioritised.
By March 2016, NHS England had formally identified more than 800 GP practices as vulnerable as part of its work to allocate £10m worth of support funding.
It found the situation was worst in the North Midlands where 22% of practices were identified as struggling. In London and South Central, around a sixth of practices have been identified as eligible for support funds.
The General Practice Forward View, published in April, pledged to add another £16m to the initial £10m vulnerable practices’ fund.