Practices put at risk by CCG's 'lack of support' for merger, warns LMC

GP leaders in Lincolnshire have urged NHS England to ensure rhetoric about primary care working at scale is supported locally by CCGs, warning that a delayed merger between two practices has left both at risk of collapse.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni: practices need support to merge (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni: practices need support to merge (Photo: JH Lancy)

A proposed merger between two rural GP practices - one in North Lincolnshire CCG and the other in Lincolnshire West CCG's patch - has been held up by 'the lack of support' from the latter CCG, according to the area's local medical committee.

The CCG, however, said it was 'disappointed' with the claim, and that it had been working to support the merger.

In a letter to NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan, Lincolnshire LMC made clear its 'immense disappointment at the lack of support from Lincolnshire West CCG in facilitating a practice merger in our region'.

Practice merger

GPs at the Kirton Lindsay Surgery and the Hawthorn Surgery - both GMS practices - submitted a merger application in May 2016 to help them cope with the imminent retirement of partners at both practices. The practices have been working together but hoped to merge formally by April 2017.

The LMC's letter says that because of a lack of support from Lincolnshire West CCG, the move is unlikely to be completed before October.

GPC executive team member and Humberside LMCs medical director Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: ''It has been immensely frustrating to see the NHS machinery operate at a pace that is not facilitative of positive change, but acting as a hindrance. It has taken over a year and numerous correspondences to Lincolnshire West CCG to find that this merger is still not going ahead in a reasonable time frame.

'The national rhetoric has been to work at scale and build resilience into the system. The lack of tangible support from local commissioners who don’t seem to want to facilitate this is hindering general practice, particularly in small, remote areas like Humberside and Lincolnshire.'

GP workforce

The LMC's letter warns that both GP practices are being put at risk by the financial and administrative implications of running the two practices independently with a limited workforce. 'The current situation is not sustainable for much longer and risks the future viability of both practices,' the LMC warned.

However, a spokesman for NHS Lincolnshire West CCG said the organisation 'has, and always will, put patient care first with any process it undertakes'.

He added: 'We are disappointed with the press release and letter that has been submitted by the LMC – which we think fails to acknowledge the complexity of this process.

'We have been working and continue to work in partnership with North Lincolnshire CCG and NHS England towards the progression and completion of the proposed merger - while ensuring patients’ needs are met.'

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