Millions committed to improve GP services

Posted on April 4, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Providers | Tags: |

Hull Forward | News from Business across Hukk & Humber | 24 March 2009

NHS Hull (formerly Hull Teaching Primary Care Trust) has agreed contracts with a number of healthcare providers which will see four new GP practices offering extended opening hours introduced from August this year. Plans for an additional GP practice and a GP-led health centre are also in the pipeline.

The four practices, to be based in Bransholme, Kingswood, Springhead (Willerby Road area) and Orchard Park, are expected to open on a phased basis between August 2009 and January 2010.

The signing of formal contracts follows the announcement earlier this year that NHS Hull was to benefit from an additional £3.451 million per year¹ to increase access as part of Lord Darzi’s Review of the NHS. The review recognised Hull as one of the most under-doctored parts of the country, and the allocation was made in order to contribute to the creation of three (of the five) extra GP practices in the city which would deliver care to patients beyond normal working hours. 

Plans for a GP-led health centre, which would offer a walk-in service for both registered and non registered patients from 8am – 8pm, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, are also being firmed up with a view to signing contracts later in the year. 

Contracts totalling £12.2 million over five years have been awarded to two different providers, and will be supplemented by another £12 million for indirect costs to support the new practices, such as for prescribing and secondary care.

The chosen providers are:

  • Assura East Riding LLP will provide GP services from a new practice to be based at Bransholme Health Centre. This is expected to open in August 2009 and will include patients transferred from the temporary service currently being provided at the former surgery of Drs Banerjee and Rej.
  • Haxby Business Group will provide GP services at two practices in the Kingswood and Springhead (Willerby Road) areas of Hull, plus another practice to be based within the Orchard Park Neighbourhood Integrated Service Centre (NISC) development. The Kingswood practice is due to open in October, whilst the Springhead practice will also open in October but in temporary accommodation until a new building is available. The final practice will open once the Orchard Park development is completed, currently expected to be January 2010

Between the four practices, more than 24,000 extra GP places will be made available for Hull residents. Each of the practices will offer extended opening hours, meaning more convenience for patients who prefer to be seen outside normal working hours. Each new practice will operate services from 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am -1pm on Saturdays. 

Keith Parsons, Assistant Director of Primary Care and Procurement for NHS Hull, says: ‘The signing of contracts is a highly significant step forward in our attempts to improve access to GPs in Hull. The value of our investment; in excess of £24 million over the next five years; reflects our commitment to improving access, choice and the responsiveness of local GP services. 

‘Hull is one of the poorest areas in the country for access to GP provision, ranking in the lowest 25 per cent of primary care trust areas for GP-to-patient ratio, and this can lead to difficulties in accessing GPs quickly and at convenient times. At the moment, our GP-to-patient ratio is well below the national average, which means it is important that we address access issues in the city. We also have a high proportion of single-handed GPs in Hull, many of whom are nearing retirement, so it is vital that we act now to both maintain and then improve services in the future. 

‘NHS Hull has always been committed to improving access to local health services, and to working with our existing local practices to make the whole experience of seeing the doctor or nurse quicker and easier. Through the establishment of these new practices, each of which will have space for around 6,000 patients, local people will be given more choice than ever over which GP practice they want to be registered with.’

Keith continues: ‘The four practices covered by these contracts will open gradually throughout the year, and we expect to have all four up and running by the beginning of 2010. These services will be supplemented by a further GP practice and a GP-led health centre, details of which we expect to announce over the coming weeks.’

Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, said: “I congratulate NHS Hull for its hard work and determination in improving access to local GP services and healthcare in Hull.

“Patients tell me that they want to see a GP at times convenient to them and that’s why we are spending an additional £250 million nationally on improving access GP and community care services and £150 million of existing funding for GPs to offer extended opening hours. 

‘Across Hull, 57% of existing practices are now offering patients extra appointments in the evenings, early mornings or weekends. This is a great achievement and these new practices and the GP health centre will complement existing services, offering even greater choice and flexibility for patients, as well as making it easier to see a doctor.” 

Hull residents were asked for their views on the new practices between May and August this year as part of the ‘Local Healthcare: Building for the Future’ consultation. Up to 95% of those who responded to the consultation supported proposals to establish the new practices in NHS Hull’s chosen locations².

Anna Heddle from the Goodwin Development Trust was one of numerous voluntary and community group representatives later invited by NHS Hull to share their views on the new practices. She says: ‘The Goodwin Development Trust recognises the importance of increasing GP access for local people. Additional health facilities for our city can only be a good thing.’ 

Notes to editor

Investment totalling £24.2 million will be made for these four practices over the next five years. The allocation of £3.451 million following the Review of the NHS represents the full yearly amount available to NHS Hull once all of the five GP practices and GP-led health centre schemes are operational. The money will be released by the Department of Health to NHS Hull on a phased basis, increasing accordingly as each of the six schemes open, to the maximum amount of £3.451 million per year. 

Results from the ‘Local Healthcare: Building for the Future’ consultation showed that:

  • 89% of respondents supported proposals for a GP-led health centre to be provided in the city centre
  • 93% of respondents supported proposals to provide a new GP practice in Bransholme
  • 95% supported proposals to provide a new GP practice at Kingswood village centre
  • 93% supported proposals for a new GP practice to be provided at Orchard Park Health Centre
  • 93% supported proposals to provide a new GP practice on Holderness Road
  • 94% supported proposals to provide a new GP practice in the West locality

The PCT has followed a formal procurement process recommended by the Department of Health which allowed any potential provider to express an interest in these schemes. A short-list of organisations was drawn up following a pre-qualifying phase and eight organisations were invited to submit tenders for up to three of the schemes each. All tenders were evaluated and decisions made on the basis of optimum value for money and overall quality of the bid. The Board of NHS Hull approved the decisions made to award the contracts to the recommended bidders at the Board Meeting held in December 2008.

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