Earlier this year four GP practices in Lincolnshire were taken over by their NHS trust as they were at serious risk of closure owing to the provider’s financial difficulties. This highly unusual measure of support was announced in July with an initial period of four months or until the CCG came to a conclusion about the practices’ future.
The chief operating officer of the CCG announced that it had collaborated with Lincolnshire Community Health Service NHS Trust to ensure that caretaking arrangements were in place until 16 December 2016, in order to cause the least possible disruption to patients while a long-term plan for the practice is reviewed. She also added that the CCG is seeking the views of its patients to inform future planning of services such as those provided by GPs and primary medical services and that there was no plan to close any of the practices at the time the initial decision was made.
Financial difficulties seem to be the prevalent issue across the NHS and the lack of clinical staff nationally and locally can mean that surgeries have to rely excessively on more expensive agency staff, which may lead to strain being placed on their finances in other areas. Recruitment issues more broadly may also have contributed to the scenario where a primary medical services provider no longer feels able to operate.
It is hoped that when the deadline for the initial phase of support by the NHS in this particular case expires that the provider will feel confident of being able to take the reins within these practices again.