Archive for May, 2011

Commuter walk-in centre closures

Posted on May 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Bureau of Investigative Journalism | May 25th, 2011 | by Emma Slater

Four of six commuter walk-in centres created in a £50m Labour government scheme to give busy workers better access to healthcare have closed, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

The walk-in clinics were created as a part of the Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) scheme, which outsourced procedures to private providers to reduce NHS waiting times.

The table below details how much was spent on the six centres.

Commuter walk-in centres Name Provider Contract Start Date Contract End Date Contract Value (£m) Status
Manchester Manchester Piccadilly NHS Walk in Centre Atos Healthcare 11/17/05 9/30/10 7.5 CLOSED
Liverpool Street Liverpool Street NHS Walk in Cetnre Walk in Health 12/19/05 12/19/10 8.3 CLOSED
Canary Wharf Canary Wharf NHS Walk in Centre Atos Healthcare 4/21/06 3/31/11 8.2 CLOSED
Newcastle Newcastle Central NHS Walk in Centre Care UK 5/17/06 4/30/11 7.0 CLOSED
Victoria Victoria NHS Walk in Centre Care UK 12/11/06 5/31/11 8.2 OPEN
Leeds Headrow NHS Walk in Centre Netcare UK Limited 2/1/07 11/30/11 8.4 OPEN
TOTAL 47.6

Source: Department of Health

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Contract threats are no way to do business

Posted on May 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |


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Trusts write termination clauses into PMS contracts

Posted on May 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Pulse | 25 May 11

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: NHS managers are writing potentially unlawful ‘variations’ into PMS contracts allowing them to be unilaterally terminated or tying GP payments to controversial efficiency measures, Pulse can reveal.

Almost two-thirds of trusts across England are writing in tough new ‘variations’ that in many cases allow them to unilaterally terminate PMS contracts if GPs don’t agree to reductions in funding or tough new requirements for payment.

The practice of writing in variations that allow unilateral termination could be declared illegal next month when a landmark case brought by GPs in London challenges attempts to force through 40% cuts in funding under the threat of closure.

The case was brought after the Department of Health inserted a new clause into PMS contract regulations last year that appeared to give the green light for terminations ‘without grounds’.

Our investigation reveals trusts across England have written variations into practice contracts or are in the process of doing so, with many specifically inserting clauses allowing unilateral termination.

PCTs are also requiring GPs to hit tough new performance targets, with one tying funding to GPs’ ‘use of resources’ by requiring them to adhere to specific care pathways.

NHS Sandwell has written in a host of new indicators to PMS contracts, including ‘adherence to local clinical pathways for diabetes and orthopaedics’ and achieving ‘a minimum number of appointments per 1,000 registered patients’.

NHS Sandwell would not comment on whether its targets amounted to payments for restrictions to referral.

A manager close to the PMS negotiations told Pulse the changes ‘were implemented in a very messy fashion’.

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NHS Wolverhampton City has written in new indicators requiring PMS practices to operate Choose and Book and extended opening, carry out in-house surveys with 25 patients per GP, and develop an action plan for practice improvement.

Of 35 PCTs providing information to Pulse, 21 have written variations into PMS contracts in the past year, or are in the process of discussing variations.

At least one-third of PCTs, including three trusts in the North East, and nine across London, have written in variations allowing termination, leaving their actions open to legal challenge.

In some cases, such as NHS Sunderland and NHS North East Essex, this was the only clause inserted, although it leaves PMS practices open to the imposition of further performance management measures in future.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a PMS GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said: ‘What is important is to ensure reviews are being carried out for the right reason, to ensure there is a fair contract in place, that promotes quality care and allows for innovation. Lamentably, many PCTs are misusing the contract to vary terms for the purposes of cost efficiencies.’

Dr Jane Lothian, a PMS GP in Ashington and chair of Northumberland LMC, fought a battle against her PCT over the imposition of variations to PMS deals back in 2008.

She told Pulse some of the measures being pursued by trusts were ‘ludicrous’: ‘My fear is that [reviews] will be used to impose non clinically-sensible clauses. You’d be into very dangerous ground if you started restricting for referrals contractually.

‘Measuring the number of appointments is ludicrous and an extremely crude measure which shouldn’t be used.’

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New home for walk-in centre

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: GP-led health centres |

Peterlee Mail | Published on Monday 23 May 2011 14:00

PATIENTS will be able to use a state-of-the-art medical centre after a walk-in centre was relocated.

The walk-in centre in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, allows people to see a doctor or nurse between 8am-8pm seven days a week, without the need for an appointment.

As from today, the service is now based at One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road.

The move will join existing services which include four GP practices, an out-of-hours service and dentistry and pharmacy services.

Patients will still be able to see a nurse or doctor without an appointment from 8am to 8pm every day, including bank holidays.

Patients do not need to register to use the service and can access the service while still remaining registered with their current family doctor.

As well as increasing access to GP services, the Hartlepool NHS Healthcare Centre, run by Assura Hartlepool, provides patients with greater choice to receive advice and treatment for a wide range of minor injuries and illnesses.

One Life Hartlepool, run by Hartlepool NHS Healthcare Centre, was opened in 2009 as part of NHS Hartlepool’s programme to increase access to local family health services.

Dr John Howe, a local GP and board member of Assura Hartlepool, said: “We are delighted to be moving into the state-of-the-art One Life Hartlepool on Park Road where we will be at the heart of a range of local services.

“Hartlepool NHS Healthcare Centre provides patients in Hartlepool with high quality, easy and convenient access from 8am to 8pm to a GP or nurse when they need it.

“Patients can walk in when they choose and do not need to be registered to use our service.”

Ali Wilson, director of commissioning and systems development for NHS Hartlepool, said: “NHS Hartlepool is delighted to be working in conjunction with Assura Hartlepool in planning for the next steps in providing a one stop NHS urgent care facility, ensuring that patients have access to high quality care.

“The move is another piece in the Momentum:Pathways to Healthcare Programme and will see local urgent care services provided from a single building, One Life Hartlepool.”

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Pioneering Barkerend, Bradford, walk-in centre hits costs trouble as patients abuse the system

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: Closure |

Telegraph & Argus | Claire Lomax

The opening hours of the country’s first walk-in health centre are set to be cut because so many patients are abusing the system that costs have soared.

The GP-led health centre – Hillside Bridge, in Butler Street, Barkerend, Bradford – was designed to improve access to healthcare for some of the most socially-excluded members of the community.

However, a damning new report reveals the vast majority of patients using the service are in fact those already registered with local GPs and who are seeking a second opinion, treatment for minor ailments or an appointment during the day when they could be seen by their own doctor.

This means the primary care trust, NHS Bradford and Airedale, is paying twice for their care, the report says.

And, in a further blow, the study reveals the walk-in centre has failed to show any demonstrable improvements in health outcomes for the local population.

The report by Dr Andy McElligott, medical director of NHS Bradford and Airedale, says: “Whilst the service has been useful to individual patients, it has not resulted in demonstrable improvements in health outcomes or cost benefits, and has actually increased demand for urgent-care services.

“We have found that a proportion of patients have been using the GP-led health centre for a second opinion when they have already been given appropriate advice by their own GP.

“The service provided by the GP-led health centre for non-registered patients is therefore a duplication of service provision.”

The report will be discussed at a board meeting of NHS Bradford and Airedale tomorrow at 1pm at Douglas Mill, Bradford.

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GPs to challenge PMS contract ruling in High Court

Posted on May 4, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Pulse | 04 May 11

By Amy Fallon

Exclusive: A group of GPs has launched a landmark legal case against PCTs’ right to unilaterally axe PMS contracts and will challenge health secretary Andrew Lansley in the High Court next month.

A judicial review on whether the secretary of state was entitled to introduce regulations permitting PCTs to terminate PMS agreements without cause has been set for June. The hearings have been brought by around 30 practices from Havering and Greenwich in London, a source told Pulse.

The case has been tabled as PCTs across London begin moves to write in ‘variations’ to PMS contracts that will reduce the payment per patient and impose a raft of additional performance management measures.

Pulse understands that some trusts are threatening to terminate contracts in cases where GPs do not agree to the terms, after the Department of Healthinserted a new clause into PMS contract regulations last year effectively allowing ‘without grounds’ terminations.

The change to PMS regulations, brought in under the previous health secretary Andy Burnham, came after the test case of dentist Eddie Crouch in 2008, who established it was then illegal for PCTs to terminate the dentists’ equivalent of a PMS contract without cause.

The DH revisions last year prompted a separate legal challenge by a PMS GP last June against NHS Havering, after it attempted to revise its PMS contracts to allow unilateral termination as a means of forcing through income cuts of up to 40%.

At the time, NHS Havering withdrew the proposed changes, saying it would reissue them to comply with due process.

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Barrister Simon Butler, from Ely Place Chambers – who secured victory for the dentists in 2008 and worked on the Havering case – told Pulse he has now been instructed on behalf of a GP in Havering.

Dr Karim Jan-Mohamed, a GP in Greenwich, is also named as a claimant, according to court officials.

‘The short answer is that there’s going to be a judicial review on PMS and the termination clauses currently used by some practices,’ Dr Jan-Mohamed confirmed.

Another GP in south-east London involved in the case, who asked not to be named, told Pulse: ‘Our variation contains numerous targets and policing, with ever-increasing performance management pressures. I am in favour of transparency and good standards, but I think general practice is in danger of suffocation. If the PCTs get away with these variations, it won’t be long before the Government does the same with any national GP contract.’

Both NHS South East London and the Department of Health said they could not comment while court proceedings were ongoing.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Threats of terminations can only be disruptive and reduce morale.’

Dr Surendra Dhariwal, a PMS GP in Newham, east London, said he ‘strongly supported’ the legal challenge: ‘This law is not only be against natural justice, but also against the human rights of a doctor.’

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