10th August 2011

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Unacceptable face?    

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
PPA 'Columnist of the Year' - Finalist


"We are constantly seeking new ways to serve our patients."


People who are ordinarily resident in the UK, including people from other EEA countries and abroad, have the right to be registered with a GP.  We are all clear on that, aren't we?


You can choose which GP you want to be registered with. The GP does not have to accept you. However, if they do refuse to accept you, they must have reasonable grounds for doing so, and must give you their reasons in writing. We know that as well, don't we?


There are some rules and regulations but they are pretty straightforward.


So, how do you explain this:


A practice, in Kingston, the Churchill Medical Centre, just outside London, has, apparently 'dumped' 48 patients. It seems the row started when NHS Kingston reviewed their PMS contracts. Following the review the practice, holder of a contract to look after people in a care home, said 'the loss of resources' meant the practice could no longer look after these patients.


Without warning, or any choice, the patients have been dumped on other practices such as the single handed practice run by Dr Gabriel Steer, who was reported in GP magazine as saying; he had received insufficient notice about the five patients he had been allocated. "I was suddenly advised I had five new patients, who were all severely mentally disabled".


There are four other practices involved. The originating GP Magazine article is here and is a must read.  There was also coverage in the local press, here


The boss of the Churchill Practice is Charles Alessi (pictured) a member of the Future Forum. He is also a honcho at the National Association of Primary Care, run by Go-Johnny Marshal, who was featured in recent the Chanel 4 programme about conflicts of interest. The NAPC have been advising LaLa on the health reforms; 'no decision about me without me' ..... a bit rich, isn't it?


Whilst practices do have a right to de-register it seems to me there is a question to ask; 'what about the patients'.


Do these patients or their relatives and carers have a voice? Do they have a say? Imagine the worry if you discovered a vulnerable, elderly, relative in care had been sent a letter they didn't understand, telling them they were being palmed-off to a complete stranger.  Or worse, as it seems, no letter or warning.


Be in no doubt, we are edging to the time when it is GPs who will decide what healthcare we are entitled to. This is an extract from DH Guidance on the Duties of Consortia, published March 2011:


"To commission healthcare to the extent the consortium considers necessary to meet the reasonable requirements of patients registered with the GP practices who are members of the consortium".


Does this mean if you are old, very sick, expensive or just a bit of a nuisance you can expect to be dumped? Presumably Alessi and mates at The Churchill took on the contract to care for these patients when it was an nice earner.  I would guess about �20k p.a?  Now it isn't; goodbye. Out of the door. Find your own doctor.


There may be very good commercial reasons for dumping four dozen patients. There may be good contractural reasons. There cannot be any compassionate, caring or considerate reasons.


Is this the unacceptable face of the new NHS?  What do you think?


Charles: if you want to write 500 words giving us your side of the story; be my guest and we'll publish.  


Chapter 3, The Epilogue coming next! 

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