Health Minister David Ashford has guaranteed that Snaefell Surgery in Anagh Coar will not be closing, despite the current practice partners returning their contact.
Last week the partners informed the department they intend to hand back their contract and cease operating the practice after a six month notice period.
A statement from the practice said: ‘‘This decision is based upon the new contract funding offered to Snaefell Surgery being wholly insufficient to develop the Practice in any meaningful and positive way. This ultimately means that unless the issue is resolved, Snaefell Surgery will close on August 14.’
However, today David Ashford told MHKs that the surgery will remain open, whether a new agreement can be reached with the GPs or not.
He said: ‘GP Practices are self-employed contractors, contracted to the DHSC to provide general medical services. But the partners handing in their contract will not lead to the surgery’s closure. If necessary it will continue under new management.
‘In terms of funding all GP practices are funded in exactly the same way and Snaefell is no different in that. The budget earlier last week increased the funding available to Primary Care by £2.2m in the forthcoming financial year. The current funding arrangements were actually only agreed by the GP representatives themselves a few months ago. We have gone back to the wider GP community to ask if they are still in agreement with the current contract provisions and they have confirmed they are and wish the current contract to remain in place. The department has also engaged with the practice and suggested ways they can increase the funding they are entitled to under the current contractual arrangements.’
Mr Ashford said that the surgery has been one GP down for most of the year and, has at stages been two GPs down.
He added: ‘The department does provide support to practices and in that respect the department has a scheme which reimburses practices to provide locum cover in lieu of sickness for GPs and this year the DHSC has refunded £67,000 worth of locum fees to this practice alone. The practice decided to close their list to new patients for most of the last year. The overall effect of this has been that the Practice has 111 less patients than it did this time last year. An increase of 111 patients would provide the Practice with an approximate annual additional income of £14,030.’
While talking about money, Mr Ashford praised the service provided by the GPs to the community, as shown by patient feedback. When Gef first published a story saying the GPs had decided to return their contract, the outpouring of support from patients telling their own stories of the care provided by the surgery was clearly supportive of them.
Mr Ashford added: ‘We continue to engage with the GPs but what they can’t have is separate funding arrangements for one practice more advantageous than other GP practices or outside of the contract arrangements agreed collectively by all GPs. It must be a level playing field and fair to all primary care providers. I hope they will reconsider their decision to serve notice but if not the practice will still continue.’