12,000-patient practice forced to hand back contract after service charge hike

A 12,000-patient GP practice in Nottinghamshire has been forced to hand back its contract after a 'large increase' in service charges triggered resignations amid concerns over its financial viability.

Practice closure (Photo: iStock.com/shank_ali)
Practice closure (Photo: iStock.com/shank_ali)

Partners at the Whyburn Medical Practice (WMP) in Hucknall announced plans to hand back their PMS contract to NHS England last week after the business became ‘financially unviable’.

A statement released by the practice reads: ‘For several years, WMP has been subject to a large increase in the service charge relating to the NHS Property Services-owned building that it resides in, leading to a dispute.’

A new GP partner resigned over the soaring charges and a new GP trainee who was set to join the practice decided to take a position elsewhere, the practice has said.

Read more
More than 1,100 GP practices have closed or merged under NHS England

A statement published on the practice website says: ‘Given the wider national issue of difficulties in GP recruitment, coupled with the fact that WMP faces a further two GP partners retiring in the near future, the situation was felt to be untenable. In essence, the grave concerns regarding the financial unsustainability of WMP have made an already difficult recruitment situation impossible, and this has resulted in an inability to move forward or plan for the future.

‘The GP partners at WMP have tried tirelessly to find a solution to these problems, exploring all avenues, but without success. It is, therefore, with huge amount of sadness that they feel unable to continue to provide a safe, high quality service to their patients. This regrettably has left them with no other option than to hand back their PMS contract.’

Earlier this year the DHSC revealed that practices owe £202m in unpaid fees to NHS Property Services and Community Health Partnerships - which own around one in five GP premises in England.

GP leaders have been warning since 2016 that service charge increases - some reaching six-figures - could force practices to close if they were not reversed.

Speaking to GPonline Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, GPC executive team lead for premises, said: 'This is an example of the kind of problems practices throughout the country are facing, with GPs and their teams being forced to work in inadequate premises, and partners facing sky-high service charges for property maintenance that is rarely carried out.

'At a time when we’re steadily losing GP partners, premises is one of the key areas where the risk of buying into a practice is slowly outweighing the advantages that go with it. Our members consistently raise issues about premises and we’ll be feeding these in to the government’s ongoing review.'

PMS contract

Dr James Hopkinson, clinical lead at Nottingham North and East CCG hit out at the situation facing Whyburn Medical Practice: ‘We’re saddened that Whyburn Practice has made the difficult decision to hand back their contract.

‘We recognise that the partners have been facing a number of challenges and trying for some time to recruit additional GPs and other clinicians. We’ve been working closely with them to help address the issues and while we are very disappointed that they have arrived at this decision, we appreciate it is one that will not have been taken lightly.’

The practice - which serves roughly 12,000 patients and is rated 'good' by the CQC - will complete the required six-month notice period before its contract comes to an end on 31 May 2019.

The CCG is working with NHS England to ‘examine the options for the provision of primary care services’ in the future. This ‘may include looking at procuring a new provider’ for the practice.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP on phone in recorded consultation assessment

Consultation skills to help GP trainees pass the RCA

Dr Afsar Rizvi highlights the key skills GP trainees need to master in order to pass...

Wes Streeting

Labour promises same GP 'each appointment' and face-to-face access if patients want it

A Labour government would offer patients the chance to see 'the same doctor each...

Man wearing mask on train

UK faces serious threat from flu and COVID-19 'twindemic' this winter

There are strong indications the UK faces a dangerous 'twindemic' of COVID-19 and...

NHS sign outside a building

PCN contract overhaul defers two-week appointment target until April 2023

NHS England has announced changes to the network contract DES, including deferring...


NHS sets out priorities for extra GP funding this winter

Integrated care boards could target extra funding for general practice at phone systems,...

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

Labour promises to double medical school places with tax cut reversal

A Labour government would double medical school places with funding raised from reversing...