Practices to lose a quarter of patients

Exclusive - PCTs to launch APMS Darzi practices in areas that are not 'under doctored'.

New APMS Darzi practices could strip existing practices of up to a quarter of their patients in some areas, GP can reveal.

Local sources say some PCTs are basing new practices in areas that are not significantly under doctored. The plan may destabilise practices with small lists and fail to tackle health inequalities, GPs warn.

Even in areas that are under doctored, there are concerns that sudden falls in list sizes will force practices to shed staff and services.

The Skelton Health Centre in Cleveland, for example, fears it could lose as many as a quarter of its 12,000 patients to a second practice proposed for the town. That would likely mean the loss of at least two GPs.

Similarly, Dr Girish Patel, a GP in Salford, Greater Manchester, fears he could lose 15 per cent of his patients to a new walk-in centre in Monton. 'I'd have to get rid of staff,' he said.

Part of the problem seems to be the tight timetable for creating the 100 new practices for under-doctored areas and 150 new GP-led health centres. The DoH expects the procurement process to be completed by December.

As a result, some PCTs are scrambling to use whatever buildings they have available for their new practices.

Local GPs suspect this is why Wolverhampton PCT is putting two of its three new practices in the south east of the city, despite the fact that practices in the north east have larger lists.

Similarly, in Salford, GPs are concerned that a new practice is being placed in Pendlebury Children's Hospital because it is a convenient site, rather than because the area is poorly served.

In Liverpool, the new GP-led health centre is being placed in a building that already houses three practices.

Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of the city's LMC, said: 'The whole thing has been rushed through to satisfy the DoH timetable.'

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