GP practices in their area may have to take on patients from five surgeries operated by two providers, if a final decision is made early next year to end the contracts in March 2020.
Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed it has begun a formal consultation into plans for its Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) practice contracts so it can understand the impact of them ending.
The contracts affect thousands of patients who use 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.
Patients were told closure was the option being considered but many are expressing concern, including on social media, about their healthcare in the future and pressure on other GP services.
As just one example, a Meadow Dale Elland patient has written: “I am appalled at this decision – in Elland a surgery closed last year, now another will go, leaving just one for everyone.
“We can all remember a promise of a seven-day NHS by Prime Minister Cameron. Meadow Dale went a long way towards that, being open six days a week for 12 hours a day and open on Bank Holidays, even Christmas Day.
“Now our patients will have to shoehorn into nine hours a day, five days a week, no Bank Holiday system which is already overcrowded.”
A spokesman for Calderdale CCG said it was planning to provide patients’ healthcare through “locally managed dispersal”.
He said: “We cannot renew the APMS contracts again and we have not found another organisation to deliver GP services through a regular GP contract, however we will try again to find a solution for the affected patients.
“We want to make sure patients have a long term solution for their GP services.
“The APMS contracts are not good value for money. They cost up to double the amount of regular GP contracts and not enough patients have registered with them across Calderdale.”
He said the CCG is planning something called a “locally managed dispersal”.
“This is when we register patients with a different GP practice based on their postcode,” he said.
“This means everyone will have a GP and don’t have to do anything themselves. The CCG will register patients and tell them who their new GP practice is.
“If a patient doesn’t want to go to the practice we match them with, we will provide information on how to register with another GP practice that serves their area.”
He said some of the problem with the APMS contracts were that they are short term and as a result the practices have found it difficult to employ permanent GPs, having to rely on temporary GPs and cost more money.
In the meantime, however, nothing has changed and patients should continue to book and attend appointments as normal.
He said the CCG had written again to all households who have people registered at the affected practices about the plan and urged them to complete a survey available at the relevant practices.
“It is really important that we understand what the impact that our plan will have on local residents,” the spokesperson said.
“We’re still consulting people about our plans.
“After the survey closes we will write a report to describe what people have told us. This will be published on our website.
“We will use what people have told us to help us make a final decision in January 2020 about our plan.”