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Plymouth GP practice redundancies could impact up to 80 staff members

Plymouth GP practice redundancies could impact up to 80 staff members

Up to 80 members of staff at a Plymouth GP provider could lose their jobs following a redundancy process aimed at mitigating the financial effects of falling patient numbers.

Last week, it was revealed that Fuller and Forbes Healthcare, which runs five GP surgeries in Plymouth, will make GP redundancies in a bid to ‘reduce the use of clinicians who work remotely’.

This is part of a shift ‘toward a more traditional model of general practice’ where all GPs working at the Mayflower Group will be required to provide face-to-face appointments and cannot work solely from home.

Fuller and Forbes Healthcare had said the number of redundancies will be ‘low’, however documents seen by PlymouthLive have now revealed that the company plans to reduce the workforce by 35%.

This equates to between 42 and 44 clinical and non-clinical FTE roles, and the company stated in a letter to employee reps on 26 April that this could result in ’60 potential redundancies from a pool of 152′.

But GMB told Pulse it expects the number to be higher with up to 80 members of staff affected, including GPs, nurses and paramedics.

The union could not say how many GPs may be made redundant, but confirmed that the private provider has ‘got rid of locum GPs’ since it took over the five surgeries in April.

Union organiser Paul Meddes said: ‘It’s very concerning for the population of Plymouth. The population is continuing to grow, so GPs, practice nurses, and practice practitioners are needed within the area’.

A member of staff at one of the Mayflower Group surgeries highlighted the pressures on the practices, telling PlymouthLive that 500 patients are awaiting appointments and 600 are waiting for blood tests.

According to the company documents, the practice is in a difficult financial position due to falling patient numbers, having shrunk by 5,352 patients over the past five years.

NHS Digital figures show that the Mayflower Group’s patient list has fallen by over 500 between April 2023 and April 2024, from 35,216 to 34,662.

The company directors, Dr Mark Fuller and Methven Forbes, wrote: ‘If rate of patient loss continues it is the equivalent of having to lose around an additional £150,000 worth of staff each year, separate to this [redundancy] consultation process.’

According to the documents, the practice has an overspend of £2.6m on staff, which equates to an extra £74.29 per patient a year – this current situation is ‘not sustainable’, the directors warned.

‘The practice needs to achieve two key milestones, whilst maintaining a safe service: provide financial stability through the redundancy process; redesign the approach to patient care to prevent even more patients from leaving the practice.’

The redundancy consultation is still ongoing, with involvement from the BMA and the Royal College of Nursing, and the management team are yet to start one-to-one meetings with employees who could be at risk.

GPs and other staff who are made redundant made be redeployed to ‘new roles created within the evolving structure of general practice’, according to the private provider.

A spokesperson for Fuller and Forbes Healthcare confirmed that ‘initial proposals’ do include the figure of 42 WTE roles being cut.

‘However, we will look at opportunities to employ existing staff within other parts of the organisation wherever possible so the actual figure is likely to be a lot lower,’ they said.

The company also runs practices in Leeds, Burnley, Gateshead and Devon.

It was awarded the 10-year APMS contract for the Mayflower surgeries in November last year and took over on 1 April, in a move that would mean ‘greater stability for patients and staff’, according to Devon ICB.

At the time the ICB said that staff at the five sites were ‘reassured’ about their employment with new provider and that they had ‘a key role in the future of the service’.

Earlier this year, Pulse exclusively revealed that the new owner of GP at Hand, eMed, announced a large-scale redundancy consultation, said to be affecting ‘mainly GPs’.  

The consultation, with put as many as 150 GPs at risk of unemployment, could be in breach of regulations and ‘indirectly discriminatory’, according to the BMA.

In January, a practice in Surrey announced it was making three GPs redundant – pointing to ‘new ways of working’, including virtual appointments and the use of ARRS staff – but it recently announced it was re-hiring for a salaried GP.

Documents obtained by Pulse had revealed that the GP partners had not taken drawings in the last year and that the practice was ‘running at a loss’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Thomas Hanson 13 May, 2024 2:07 pm

It was not that many years ago that this group of practices were all individual surgeries that were seemingly doing well and had excellent patient care. The moment they decided to get bigger and have an acute hub here and a chronic hub there was when it was on a downward spiral. I can assure you, bigger is definitely not better… Let this kind of practice be an example.

Michael Green 13 May, 2024 2:14 pm

But but but the Fuller stocktake said this type of practice is The Way Forward. Did somebody forget to tell the patients?

Centreground Centreground 13 May, 2024 2:35 pm

PCNs in my view are currently being utilised by certain groups to misuse PCN funding and additionally to create large commercial businesses for future sale and not for improving patient care. Effectively, they are essentially side-lining NHS PCN funds, substituting taxpayer funds for private equity for their own ambitions and not for the betterment of the NHS.
They continue to follow the NHS Template for disaster set by a perennially failing NHS England, government backed by ineffective ICBs as we are now once again seeing.
Will PCN Clinical Directors and ICB/RCGP/ former CCG Board leaders now recognise their role in the catastrophic decline in General Practice and the increase in my opinion of the unforgiveable unnecessary deprivation of medical care to large sectors the population?

Peter Jones 13 May, 2024 4:15 pm

Totally agree with all of above. Mega-practices lose continuity of care and are not popular with patients – hence the loss of patient numbers here. Politicians please take note.

So the bird flew away 13 May, 2024 4:20 pm

Totally agree with Centregroundx2 again. This Govt and any Labour Govt led by Tony Blair Institute thinking will continue to set up Fuller strokemake (aka neo-Darzi ) primary care bodies which will hold NHS contracts which can then be bought (eg by USA, Dubai corporations) and sold, and probably traded on a futures market. GPs will be salaried except for the usual culprit GPs who will legally contract. The profits will go to the corporations, the risk will stay with the taxpayer. And this is the form of “democracy” we’ve sunk to. The public need to know.
The primary care patient experience will be moved towards heartless domination by Algorithms, AI and ARRS.

Hopefully I’m wrong. But I just saw squeaky Richie Sunshine round the back by the bike sheds, in drainpipes, smoking a fag and setting fire to The NHS.

J Landen 13 May, 2024 4:22 pm

Dr Fuller just taken over large practice in East Devon. I note is top of the list as ‘partner’ .