Lincoln MP suggests NHS had no intention of keeping collapsed surgeries open

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has said that saving two recently closed GPs was “never a realistic prospect” for the group which ran them, criticising bosses for failing to promise waiting times across the city would not increase as a result.

Lincolnshire West CCG (LWCCG) has rejected the claims, stating it had “every intention” to keep surgeries open and that they were no longer viable.

Some 2,600 patients who were registered at the Burton Road surgery in Lincoln and 3,100 at the Arboretum GP were forced to register at other practices in the city following the decision to close the facilities on Saturday, January 7.

Altogether 11,000 patients were affected by the closure of four surgeries in the area with the addition of Metheringham and Pottergate.

The news was previously met with fears from residents, local politicians and the Lincolnshire Local Medical Committee that remaining providers would be swamped by the influx of new patients.

Arboretum Surgery and Burton Road Surgery closed on January 7. Photo: Google

In a letter to LWCCG, Karl McCartney has called for the group to address procedures behind the form of contract on offer when the surgeries went back out to procurement, noting the funding offered of £81.68 per patient was lower than the group’s average of £97.40 for the previous year.

The Lincolnite has learned since that the funding offered by LWCCG for the new contracts was in fact £80.59 per patient.

Karl stated that he believed there was never a realistic prospect of the surgeries reopening, highlighting that previous providers were unable to run the practices due to financial reasons.

He also called for clarity on the future funding and capacity of GP services in Lincoln.

Karl McCartney said: “Given the funding they made available and the views of local GPs, I am not convinced that the Clinical Commissioning Group were ever serious about wanting to keep these two vital surgeries open.

“I am gravely concerned about the knock-on effect these closures will have, not just on those patients who have had to move but also on average GP waiting times across the city as existing surgeries have to add these patients to their current roll.

“They have said they cannot give me the reassurances I have sought ‘at the present time’ and I fear they never will. This is not acceptable especially given the growing city I represent needs more GP surgeries not fewer.

“Local patients, taxpayers and the local health sector deserve better. It is vital that the Clinical Commissioning Group are reminded they are accountable to the people of Lincoln so I am looking forward to them publicly answering the searching questions that I have posed.”

Karl has said he is due to the meet the Chief Executive of the LWCCG in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson from Lincolnshire West CCG said: “There was every intention to keep the surgeries open. At point of liquidation of Universal Health back in July, there was an option there and then to disperse lists.

“Historically, the practices had probably shown they were no longer viable but the CCG, at some financial cost, took the decision to go out to procurement. This is a long process that involved consultations, public engagement, working pro-actively in the media, supporting practices etc.

“The evaluation panel was completely independent from the CCG and, after thoroughly assessing the bids we received, deemed them not in a position to take on the practice/s they had bid for.

“This includes important factors such as financial sustainability and of course patient safety.

“It would have been irresponsible to awards contracts for the sake of it. We had to issue APMS contracts because this is in line with guidance from NHS England.

“Karl’s figures are slightly incorrect – we’re actually talking about £80.59 per patient. This, again, is in line with the ‘global sum’ – a national guidance that was set on April 1, 2016.”

When asked by The Lincolnite whether the group could clarify average waiting times in Lincoln would not suffer, they added: “The NHS in general is extremely unpredictable so it would be impossible to guarantee anything. Primary care, as well documented, has been under pressure for some time.

“We have been working closely with supporting GP practices to best ensure they are in a strong-as-possible position to take on extra patients.

“And Lincolnshire remains the first county to benefit from a new international recruitment drive – in which 20 new GPs will be arriving in the county over the coming weeks. This, we hope, will help fill the gaps and ease some pressure.”