Practice kept afloat by patient fundraising reveals second year of losses

An 'underfunded' Essex practice where patients have been paying to keep the lights on has revealed it has suffered a financial loss for the second year running.

Dr John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-Free used £8,300 of his pension to keep the practice afloat last year
Dr John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-Free used £8,300 of his pension to keep the practice afloat last year

Greenwood Surgery in Chelmsford has said it expects to suffer a financial loss in the current financial year, following last year’s losses of £4,500.

In May GPonline reported that patients had launched a campaign to raise £5,000 to help pay the practice’s bills and expenses.

Partner Dr John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-Free, who changed his name by deed poll in 2013 to highlight his plight, has already used over £8,000 from his own pension fund to keep the practice afloat.

The single-handed practice has said that it received a poor MPIG settlement when the current GMS contract took effect in 2004 and has struggled ever since.

Dr John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-Free has said he believed the practice receives around £45 per patient. Data on payments to general practice from the NHS Digital suggest the practice receives around £112 per patient, but the practice’s accountant has previously told GPonline the figures are misleading.

The Essex GP, who has recorded a song to raise awareness of his situation, has said he will not abandon his patients despite the practice’s dire situation because owes them a duty of care.

‘Although I’m a pauper by the standards set by professionals, I’m relatively well off in comparison to much of the population’, said Dr Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-Free.

Personal cost

‘It’s the personal and family costs that hurt most. At the moment my wife is in Vancouver seeing my daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren. I can’t be there as locum doctors, brought in to look after my patients whilst I’m away cost more per day than I earn in an entire year.’

He added: ‘I realise I'm fighting a quixotic battle but it is nevertheless worth trying to wake the public and the media up to what is going on at present. The NHS is in a worse state than I have ever known it in my 35-plus years of general practice and I find it harder now than it has ever been to provide a satisfactory standard of service to my patients - even when I am subsidising the practice by working for nothing and paying in funds from my pension in order to prop It up.’

The practice's patient participation group chairman Ian Gillard said patients were trying to help the practice out of its ‘desperate situation’.

‘We have run coffee mornings and a concert and we recently organised a very successful crowdfunding venture,' he said. 'Our next venture is a sponsored walk and some patients have spontaneously set up standing orders to provide an ongoing source of revenue for the practice.

'We have to do this because the health service treats the patients of this practice as second-class citizens. As for our doctor, if the NHS looked after him half as well as he looks after his patients, we’d be home and dry.’

Director of Finance for NHS England Midlands and East (East) Adrian Marr said: 'The Greenwood Surgery operates under a GMS contract agreed by Dr Cormack in 2004. The fees for this type of contract are determined by a national formula and checked regularly by the NHS England East finance team. NHS England is therefore assured that Dr Cormack has not been treated any differently or unfairly in the calculations or subsequent allocation of his funding.

'NHS England would also like to reassure patients and public that there is no NHS policy to wipe out small friendly practices.'

'Each practice is a private business with the freedom to spend its allocation as it sees fit in delivering its contract.'

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