Patients at Calderdale GP practices given assurances as health provision contracts come under review

Calder Community Practice is housed on the second floor of Todmorden Medical Centre. Picture: Google Street View
Calder Community Practice is housed on the second floor of Todmorden Medical Centre. Picture: Google Street View

Patients of five Calderdale practices have been assured they will be able to access high quality GP care whatever the decision made over their health provision.

Calderdale NHS Clinical Commissioning Group is looking to change medical services contracts currently held by two practices at five sites in the borough and patients have expressed some alarm on social media as to what will happen to their healthcare.

The CCG has just completed a month-long pre-consultation with patients at practices run by Meadow Dale Group Practice, delivered by Virgincare in Ovenden, Elland and Sowerby Bridge, and Park and Calder Community Practice, delivered by Locala in central Halifax and Todmorden.

It is the CCG’s belief that it can better value for money by making changes because the type of contract these services were provided under cost around double the amount of a standard one.

A spokesperson for the CCG said it had a “fantastic” response to the pre-consultation and wanted to assure people that no decision has been made yet on the future of these services.

“We will now take our time to fully consider the feedback we have received before making any decision on our next steps, but any future proposals would be subject to a full public consultation.

“Regardless of the outcome of this process Calderdale CCG has a responsibility to ensure that everyone currently registered with Meadow Dale Group Practice and Park and Calder Community Practice can continue to access high quality GP services in the future,” he said.

The spokesperson explained that these services were commissioned under something called an Alternative Provider Medical Services’ or APMS contract.

“APMS contracts are different to our regular GP contracts and can be run by commercial organisations.

“Both regular and APMS contracts have the same clinical and quality standards.

“APMS contracts were originally put in place by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in areas where GP services were lacking or needed,” he said.

Until 2015 APMS contracts were managed by NHS England, said the spokesperson, but in recent years the CCG has taken over the commissioning responsibility for these contracts.

“Since then we have supported the existing providers and extended contracts to ensure alignment with our CCG strategy.

“However, following conversations with the existing providers we have come to the conclusion that the continued provision of services in their current arrangement is not sustainable or affordable,” he said.

“We don’t believe that these APMS contracts offer value for the Calderdale pound, costing up to double the amount of a regular contract.

“We think we could better spend this money on providing general medical services under a regular contract.”

The spokesperson said that as part of pre-consultation engagement the CCG wrote to every patient that is registered at the affected practices and invited them to complete a survey so that

it could gather their views, comments and concerns, hundreds taking the opportunity to do so.