PERFORMANCE: One of the leading lights of the government’s GP commissioning reforms has been drawn into a row which has seen the primary care trust cluster for south west London investigate claims care home patients were “dumped” by a GP practice.
The Churchill Medical Centre in Kingston, whose senior partner is Charles Alessi, de-registered nearly 50 care home residents in July, forcing NHS South West London to redistribute them to six other practices who are contractually obliged to take them on.
Concerns have been raised by some practices that they were given insufficient notice of the transfer. One of the practices has been quoted by local press as saying: “We are getting dumped on by Churchill. I look after my patients. I don’t dump them on others.”
Dr Alessi, an executive member of the pro-reform National Association of Primary Care, has denied dumping took place and criticised the PCT cluster for failing to notify the affected practices earlier.
His practice gave formal notification of its intentions to de-register 48 of the 61 residents at the Kingston Care Home on 22 June – one month before they were transferred.
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But he told HSJ his practice had previously informed the cluster of its intention at a meeting in May. He said: “We are disappointed that practices locally were not informed in good time by the PCT. We cannot inform practices ourselves as we do not know where patients will be registered.”
However, a spokeswoman for NHS South West London said: “We are unable to take action based on verbal conversations and Churchill’s practice didn’t give formal written notice of their intention to deregister patients until 22 June, which meant we had to act quickly to make sure these vulnerable patients got the ongoing health support they need.”
Dr Julius Parker, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Local Medical Committee, the regional branch of the British Medical Association, said it had been contacted by “a number of practices that are concerned”.
“We’re raising this with the south west London cluster and asking them to investigate what has happened and whether it is in accordance with the regulations,” he said.
A cluster spokeswoman confirmed that the primary care contracting team was reviewing the procedures followed.
Dr Alessi said his practice was still the main supplier of medical care to the home. It had originally taken on the responsibility for all its patients in 2008 without any extra resources and when no other practice was willing to do so.
He said the decision to de-register the patients followed a “very substantial loss of income” after NHS Kingston had redistributed resources among local practices with personal medical services contracts.
Statements recieved by HSJ