The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

Inquiry into Camden Road Surgery closure raises concerns about remaining privately-run practices

    Camden Road Surgery

    Camden Road Surgery was closed in April, leaving more than 4,500 patients without a doctor

    Published: 28 June, 2012
    by TOM FOOT

    A FINAL report from a public inquiry into the closure of a privately run GP surgery has raised concerns over the future of two other practices in Camden.

    Camden Road Surgery closed on April 13, four years after it was taken over by American health giant UnitedHealth, leaving more than 4,500 patients without a doctor.

    The inquiry panel of three councillors – chaired by Labour councillor Angela Mason – said there was an “urgent need” to find a replacement for the closed surgery, adding: “We remain concerned about the remaining two contracts held by The Practice at the Bruns­wick Centre and King’s Cross, as contracts will end in 2013.”

    UnitedHealth – the wealthiest health company in America – was awarded five-year contracts to run three Camden surgeries in 2008.

    The inquiry’s in-depth report found a “serious loophole” in the original contract which allowed surgeries to be suddenly sold to another firm, The Practice plc, in April 2011. There was no competitive tender – as is normally the case – and the new company was not vetted in any way by its NHS paymasters.

    The inquiry report said: “The panel were of the view that this was a serious loophole. In our view primary care by GPs should not be a commodity traded in the private market and prompt action should be taken to remedy this.”

    The inquiry’s report concluded that Camden Road Surgery was a “casualty” of government NHS reforms and that a lack of consultation with other GP practices had led to “unnecessary anxiety” among patients.

    The report added: “A number of those who gave evidence to the inquiry said they first found about the closure from the Camden New Journal. We note that the reporting of the Camden New Journal has been a consistent and reliable source of public information on what was happening at Camden Road Surgery.”

    The inquiry heard from GPs, NHS officials, patients and anti-privatisation campaigners.

    The report added that a “lack of planning” had led to the failure of the NHS to find alternative premises for a new surgery. The use of multiple locums was criticised for breaking a “continuity of GP care provided by the practice’s former owner, Dr Robert Harbord”.

    The report concluded there was an urgent need for a new surgery in the area bounded by Camden Road, York Way, and St Pancras Way and that the estates at Agar Grove and Maiden Lane are areas of particular deprivation, adding: “We recommend the council begin urgent discussions with NHS North Central London (NCL) on both the proposals for new practices in the King’s Cross development and at Maiden Lane.”

    Cllr Mason said the way Camden Road Surgery was closed was unacceptable. It had been a casualty of the cuts.

    The increasing trend towards privatisation could have quite a massive effect on the notion of having a doctor, she warned. “We are moving to a situation where there is a real possibility that GPs are subservient to private providers,” she said.

    Cllr Mason added: “It was disappointing that The Practice and UnitedHealth did not attend [the inquiry] and that does send out a message of concern.”

    Officials from NCL were due to debate the report with councillors at the Town Hall last night (Wednesday).

    Comments

    another surgery closing

    Dr Shina is retirering and NHS England is closing the surgery on 31st of March

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