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NHS campaign group urges GPs to refuse contract that cuts patients' access

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS are urging all GP practices in Kirklees and Calderdale not to sign up to a new Primary Care Network contract that’s being rushed in, without any chance for GPs to vote on it through their trade union, the British Medical Association.


NHS Campaigners with Thelma Walker, MP. Photo: Jenny Shepherd

The campaigners are delivering letters about this to 15 Calderdale and Greater Hudderfield GPs on Thursday and Friday this week. The other 55+ will go by post.

They have uploaded their letter to the GPs on their blog and invited the Calderdale and Kirklees public to sign it.

14 Primary Care Networks for Calderdale and Kirklees

The new Primary Care Network contract will formally tie GP practices into 14 Primary Care Networks that have been set up across Calderdale and Kirklees without any public consultation, as part of the cost-cutting scheme to cut hospital services.

The Primary Care Networks are supposed to make up for the hospital cuts, by providing more NHS services in the community.

Proposals unfit for the public

But at the 15th February meeting of Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, Hands off HRI and Thelma Walker MP all challenged these proposals as unfit for the public.

Commissioners fail to answer questions

The local NHS Commissioners failed to answer questions about the impact of the new Primary Care Network contract on Calderdale and Kirklees patients and GP practices.

US healthcare system

Primary Care Networks group several GP practices together with acute, mental health, community health, social care and outpatients services, along with companies, volunteers and charities. They each serve 30-50K patients and operate a system of so-called integrated care imported from the US healthcare company, Kaiser Permanente.

Restricting access

The new Primary Care Network contract requires GPs to restrict patients’ access to NHS and social care services. The extra money it brings into GP practices is tied to specifications that require reductions in the use of the NHS and the employment of less skilled auxiliary health care staff.

GP workload

This is not going to solve the General Practice crisis, which arose after successive governments' spending cuts led to closure of many public services that people rely on. As a result, GPs' workload has become so overwhelming that over 1,000 have quit over the last 3 years. For example, last year Hebden Bridge Group Practice lost 5 GPs. It has since replaced them with Advanced Practitioners and GP locums.

Less qualified staff

Jenny Shepherd of Hebden Bridge, Chair of Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, said, “This Primary Care Network contract is basically going to make it impossible for most patients to see their own named GP. GPs will only see patients with the most complicated illnesses. And they will have to spend a lot of time supervising less qualified staff who will have most of the contact with patients. This really is going to damage patient care.

GPs risk funding if they don't sign contract

"It’s not going to be good for GPs either. But the Government’s quango, NHS England, is holding a gun to their heads. Because if GP practices don't take on the contract, they will be starved of funding. And because Primary Care Networks have to serve all patients in their area, if a GP practice refuses the contract, their patients will have to go elsewhere for PCN services."

Restricted care

Chrissie Parker, campaigner with the group, added, "“If these contracts are signed, I fear there will be less access to GP’s and patients will be seen by less qualified health care professionals. GP referrals to hospitals for many treatments will also be a thing of the past. GP’s have a duty of care and their care is now being restricted.”

See also

HebWeb Forum: Hebden Bridge Group Practice (Jan-May 2019)

Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS