Doctors at St Austell’s biggest GP surgery terminate NHS contract due to “financial difficulties”
By Cornish Guardian | Posted: August 13, 2014
THOUSANDS of patients have been left shocked after doctors at St Austell’s largest GP practice terminated their contract with the NHS due to “financial difficulties.”
Partners at Polkyth Surgery, on Carlyon Road, informed NHS England of their decision last week.
Doctors Angus Senior and Manisha Cooper said in a statement on the surgery’s website that the practice would remain open while a new contractor was found.
“We would like to reassure our patients that we are fully open as normal for all services,” they said. “We can confirm we will be ending our contract for GP services. We will remain open while NHS England put in alternative arrangements.”
The statement continued: “We apologise if this is unsettling. It is with great regret that we have decided to relinquish our contract, having made many friends and supported the community for so many years.”
NHS England said it was working with the practice “to make sure patients are not affected”.
A spokesperson told the Cornish Guardian: “The practice has told us it has financial difficulties and therefore cannot continue with its contract.
“Discussions are already under way with another provider with the aim of securing continuity of care and making the transition as smooth as possible.
“Patients can continue to make and take up appointments as usual during this time.”
St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert said he was gravely concerned by news of the surgery’s plight.
“As the local MP, I have visited Polkyth Surgery on a number of occasions and I know what a valuable contribution the doctors and nurses have made to the local community,” he said.
“The news that the GPs will hand back their contract will be deeply worrying for patients. It is vital that our National Health Service providers are able to operate viably and I will be raising the specifics of this case with ministers after the summer recess.”
He added: “Ultimately, I am pleased that managers are working to put alternative arrangements in place to provide continuity of service for patients; and I have offered my support and assistance for this process if needed.”
Jenny Curtis, vice-chairman of the Polkyth Patient Participation Group (PPG), said she had no idea the situation at the surgery had become so dire.
“It’s been as much of a shock to us as anyone else,” she said. “We heard about it in the news.
“I would hate to see Dr Senior or Dr Cooper leave for any reason. They’re both caring GPs. I don’t know what their situations are, but it would be a terrible shame if they did.”
Polkyth Surgery serves almost 11,000 patients, but has struggled to cope with long-term staff absences and the pressures of recent government healthcare reforms.
In 2012, the abolition of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) forced GPs to take control of their own finances and made them responsible for planning, and buying local services for their patients – effectively turning doctor’s surgeries into businesses.
NHS England refused to speculate about who would take over the practice, but under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 the contract will be put out to tender to the private sector. “It could well be a private company that takes over, it wouldn’t surprise me” said Mrs Curtis. “These days doctors’ surgeries are forced to chase profit.
“GPs never used to be involved in the business side of things, so it’s no surprise some practices are struggling.
“The amount of pressure on GPs at the moment is incredible,” she said. “It’s appalling, but it won’t end at Polkyth. I think this is going to