GPs are being 'forced into polyclinics'

Birmingham GPs are being forced into polyclinic-style premises amid fears that their contracts will be otherwise terminated, LMC leaders say.

Over half of practices in the Heart of Birmingham PCT have now signed up to move into new buildings that will house practices franchised by the PCT.

Birmingham LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley claims practices are being 'corralled' into 'despicable' LIFT agreements, amid threats that their contracts will be withdrawn.

The franchise strategy was first published in November last year as a way to move 76 small practices into 24 large, franchised primary care buildings.

Heart of Birmingham PCT documents reveal the PCT has developed a minimum specification for premises, which means 70 per cent of existing practice premises are considered unsuitable.

The strategy gives GPs no chance of improving their own practices, said Dr Morley.

Many practices effectively had no choice whether they moved into the new premises, he said.

'Practices are signing up out of fear. Some have said they will not speak to the press. They are too scared to stick their head above the parapet,' he said.

'Most GPs here are on PMS contracts. The PCT can make whatever changes it likes. We have no doubt GPs face the stark choice to sign up or have their contract terminated.'

Heart of Birmingham PCT insists it is working with practices to 'overcome financial barriers' preventing them moving to the new premises, and that they have the choice not to sign up.

A spokeswoman for the PCT said the more GPs understood the proposals, the more they supported them.

But Dr Morley says the examples of LIFT sub-leases he has seen so far contained some 'despicable' clauses.

'Across Birmingham I've seen high rental and astronomical services charges.

'Despicable restrictive clauses are used across LIFT premises in Birmingham where, if GPs leave before the end of their lease, they are not allowed to practise again within three miles of the area.

'That is effectively ending their livelihood,' he said.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

Unsuitable premises

70% of existing GP premises in Heart of Birmingham PCT are considered unsuitable

Source: HoB PCT

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