North Derbyshire CCG said on Wednesday it had commissioned Chesterfield Royal Hospital, in the form of Royal Primary Care, to provide an 'emergency caretaker' service for around 24,000 patients registered with Holywell Medical Group in Chesterfield and Staveley.
Partners at the group, which operated across five sites, handed back their contract after recruitment problems and the costs of employing locum GPs made the practice unsustainable.
Royal Primary Care - the name Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust (FT) is operating the GP services under, which is not a separate entity from the trust - has taken over three of the five practice branches temporarily.
GP practices closed
The remaining two have been closed. Local LMC leaders are working to ensure the stability of neighbouring practices.
A spokeswoman for Chesterfield Royal Hospital FT told GPonline that its priority was safeguarding GP services and seeing if the trust can work together as a primary and secondary care entity for the benefit of all patients. ‘The next few months', she added, 'will enable us to ascertain if it could be a viable longer-term plan’. But there were no plans at present to take on further GP services.
The hospital said it had begun advertising nationally for new GPs to strengthen the service.
The FT has been contracted to run the service until 31 March 2016, and North Derbyshire CCG said a reprocurement will ensure a permanent solution is in place by then.
CCG conflict of interest
A spokesman for the CCG confirmed it was now reviewing its conflicts of interest processes and policies after the FT gained member practice status.
Derbyshire LMC secretary Dr John Grenville told GPonline the practice group had faced 'huge difficulties recruiting and retaining GPs, racking up huge locum costs and looking at rapidly decreasing profits to the extent they didn't think it was sustainable.'
The LMC had been involved with attempts to help stabilse the practice with NHS England and the CCG for a couple of years, he said, but it had become necessary for the partners to terminate their contract and find an emergency solution.
The LMC, said Dr Grenville, had confidence in the foundation trust to provide the service temporarily until commissioners consult on a long-term solution and reprocure the service next year. 'The LMCs' priority at the moment is to maintain the stability of practices in the rest of the town,' he added.
Holywell Medical Group senior partner Dr Nadine Kale said: ‘The partners have been exploring ways of integrating care with other local healthcare providers for some time. However, ongoing difficulties to recruit health professionals, particularly GPs, and the financial pressures of having to use more locum doctors has driven this urgent change.'
She added: ‘This is the first integration of primary and secondary care in the North Derbyshire area and it is an exciting new challenge. The support provided by the Chesterfield Royal Hospital will free up more GP time to see patients which was previously spent on managing the practice.’