BMA demands 'immediate' GP funding as workforce crisis forces practice closure

GP leaders have warned that bailout funding for general practice must be delivered immediately to stop practice closures, as the workforce crisis forced a Yorkshire practice to hand back its contract.

BMA workforce, education and training lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni
BMA workforce, education and training lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni

The providers of a GP practice in Bridlington will be forced to hand back their contract at the end of the year due to chronic GP shortages, which GP leaders have warned spells 'disaster' for the local area.

One Medical Group, which currently holds the contract for the Field House Surgery, said it will relinquish the contract on 31 December after maintaining services became 'unsustainable' due to GP and nurse shortages.

GPC workforce, education and training lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, who is also the BMA GP representative for Yorkshire and Humberside, warned that promised funding increases must be implemented ‘immediately’ so that more practices do not close their doors.

GP workforce

The practice has long struggled with recruitment problems, with the One Medical Group only taking over the contract two years ago after the previous provider faced similar problems.

NHS England and One Medical Group told GPonline they were looking into sourcing an alternate provider to take over the contract from 1 January next year.

If an alternative provider cannot be found, the practice’s 6,500 patients will have to be redistributed among the four other practices located in the seaside town – all of which have already closed their lists, Dr Kasaraneni said.

‘Bridlington is a small town with four or five practices – all of which have already closed their lists because they can't take on any more patients,’ he said.

‘If this contract is not taken up, these practices will have to take on thousands of extra patients and deliver services without the room or extra GPs they need.’

GP workload

This added strain could ‘absolutely’ push these remaining practices to the brink, he warned. ‘This practice closure will be a disaster for the area, with 6,500 patients left without their current GP service.

‘It is a symptom of a wider crisis affecting Yorkshire and Humberside, as well as the rest of the country, as general practice buckles under the pressure of rising patient demand, contracting budgets and staff shortages.’

Jane Hawkard, chief officer of East Riding of Yorkshire CCG, said: ‘We have been working with NHS England to find a solution which best fits with the new integrated health and wellbeing model that ourselves, GP practices in Bridlington, our community services provider and social care want to deliver.’

Heather Marsh, head of primary care co-commissioning for the area, said NHS England was ‘exploring the options to bring in a new service provider at the practice’.

She added: ‘We want to reassure patients that services will be maintained and no one will go without GP services after the present provider has left the practice. We will keep patients informed of progress.’

A spokeswoman for One Medical Group said: ‘The shortage of GPs and nurses in the wider area and nationally is not a new issue and we have raised our concerns about the staffing to our local commissioners on many occasions.

‘In April of this year we submitted a bid for the Vulnerable Practice Fund, supported by the CCG, to NHS England, this included a new multi-disciplinary team approach to address the shortage of GPs in the area.

‘It is with regret that despite all of these efforts and a recognition of the pressure the practice is under, the political and economic landscape for healthcare services in Bridlington and nationally has made it impossible for us to continue to deliver a sustainable service for patients.

‘We are in advanced conversations with a local provider about transitioning Field House to them and are working with NHS England and this provider on a timely handover to ensure an orderly solution for patients and staff.’

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