An NHS trust will temporarily take on the running of four GP practices in Lincolnshire in a bid to save them from closure, after the APMS provider was forced to hand back the contract.
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) will run the services for the next four and a half months, while the CCG reviews the future of the practices.
NHS Lincolnshire West CCG, which commissions GP services in the area, said APMS contractor Universal Health had ‘unfortunately asked Lincolnshire West CCG to terminate their contract due to financial difficulties’.
But chief operating officer Sarah Newton said the CCG had ‘worked with Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust to secure caretaking arrangements until 16 December 2016 in an attempt to cause minimal disruption to patients whilst we review the longer term plan’.
She said that while ‘no definitive decisions have been made in relation to the future of the practices’ at this stage there were ‘no plans to close the surgeries’. In the meantime, the CCG is ‘seeking views of patients to help inform future planning of primary medical services’.
A statement on Universal Health’s website, signed by chief executive Dr Neal Parkes, explained that recruitment problems had caused the problems with running of the practices.
He said: ‘Whilst the quality of care provided to patients remains good, the financial difficulties of a heavy reliance on temporary staff because of local and national shortages of clinical staff mean that the management arrangements for these surgeries need to change.
‘We have been working with the local CCG to ensure that this change will not affect patient services.’
It comes as only last week an NHS trust took over a practice in Somerset to ensure its survival – part of a trend of trusts taking over struggling practices.
Trust takeovers of practices
For example, in south Somerset, 10 practice contracts could come to be held by the local trust, with the current partners becoming salaried GPs.
Elsewhere, in Wolverhampton, a number of GP practices will be employed by the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Hospitals Trust while a mental health trust and GP provider company in Sheffield won a bid for an APMS contract to run five GP practices.
Meanwhile, in Wales and Scotland, NHS health boards are increasingly having to take on the running of practices.