Capacity concerns as practices covering 7,000 patients face closure

LMC leaders in Essex have said there could be concerns for service capacity after NHS England said it was closing two practices and dispersing their 7,000 patients.

Local commissioners said they would not renew contracts for the two practices held by South Essex Managed Care (SEMC) Ltd.

SEMC’s Wickford Health Centre practice could close on 31 January 2018, and the Gore Surgery, Basildon on 28 February after their respective five-year contracts end.

A stakeholder briefing from NHS England and Basildon and Brentwood CCG said commissioners wanted to ‘strengthen GP services’ in the area and that the premises used by the Gore Surgery were not fit for ‘future service development and delivery’.

‘Therefore, NHS England and NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG are proposing to not renew these contracts when they expire.’

Commissioners will consult with stakeholders before making a final decision.

Capacity problems

Essex LMC chief executive Dr Brian Balmer said there would be concerns over the ability of neighbouring practices to absorb the dispersed patients in an area which already has capacity problems.

‘They are going for dispersal and it will depend on if they have assessed properly the capacity of the surrounding services’, he said. ‘We already have a bit of a capacity issue in the area in general.’

Dr Balmer said the LMC did have concerns about how the closures would affect other practices but it was too early to know yet what the effect would be. 

Commissioners said that a second practice operating from the Wickford Health Centre was not affected and the centre would be remain open. NHS England is consulting the local authority on future development plans for the site. 

They said: ‘NHS England and NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG recognise that this may be an unsettling time for patients affected. Everything is being done to provide patients with the information they need throughout this process.

‘NHS England and NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG are working with both practices to ensure all patients continue to have access to primary care services.’

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