A 7,000-patient practice in Barnet has been given the go-ahead to move its premises to the empty space in a hospital to save approximately £150,000 per year in rent.
The relocation of Ravenscroft medical centre was given the go-ahead by NHS Barnet CCG, after several attempts over the years to encourage a GP practice to move there.
In response to questions by Dr Brian Golden, a former partner at the surgery, the CCG said it has been wanting to fill the space in Finchley Memorial Hospital as the cost of maintaining the space is £180,000 a year.
The documents said: ‘Barnet CCG (and its predecessor primary care trust) has been attempting to relocate a GP practice at Finchley Memorial for more than seven years. The void costs at Finchley Memorial Hospital are costing the NHS around £180,000 a year. Previous attempts at encouraging a GP practice to relocate to the hospital have failed due to the perceived high service costs at the hospital.’
A Barnet CCG spokesperson said: ‘The move would save the NHS around £150,000 a year in rent, which will be reinvested in primary care in the borough.’
Opposition to the move
Dr Golden also asked why the CCG said patients would have access to a ‘wider range of services’ when patients can already access the services at the hospital, without moving GP surgery.
He added: ‘Being co-located is of no benefit because all the services require an appointment, and therefore a separate journey on the appointed day.’
The LMC said that the approval of the relocation ‘flies in the face’ of the majority of patient consultation responses opposing the move to the hospital premises 3.2 miles away from the current location.
The CCG told our sister publication Pulse that there has been some ‘disquiet’ from practices around the hospital vicinity, who have said they are ‘worried’ the move could take patients away from their list.
They added: ‘We do understand that some patients may not wish to travel there and we will work with them to ensure they can register with one of the eight GP practices within a mile of Ravenscroft, all of which are accepting new patients.’
Final decision upcoming
In a statement on its website, the practice said: ‘We have recently consulted with all our patients about a proposal for the practice to relocate to Finchley Memorial Hospital.
‘We would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this consultation. Every individual contribution was reviewed and evaluated, and the collective feedback was compiled into a consultation report. This report, along with a recommendation paper, was presented to the North Central London Primary Care Commissioning Committee on 22 August 2019 for a final decision to be made on the proposal.
‘Committee members considered the consultation responses, along with the equality and quality issues, as well as the financial benefits to the NHS, and have approved the relocation of Ravenscroft Medical Centre to Finchley Memorial Hospital.’
Patient and practitioner preference
Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said: ‘The decision to approve the move of Ravenscroft Medical Centre and its 7,000 patients into Finchley Memorial Hospital seems to fly in the face of local patient and practitioner preference, as evidenced by 86% of responses to the patient consultation on the proposals.’
Retired GP partner Dr Paul Blom told the Mirror: ‘If this is allowed to go ahead, it will be the green light for practices to be closed and moved. There is a retirement home nearby. The frail and elderly will struggle to get to the new surgery.’
NHS Barnet CCG clarified that Dr Blom is one of the landlords at Ravenscroft medical centre.
A spokesperson for the CCG said: ‘There is no protest from GPs at the practice. Dr Paul Blom was a GP there, but retired from the practice in 2018. However, he is one of the landlords of Ravenscroft. As such he has a very material interest in the building and its tenancy/rental, therefore his interest in the issue needs to be made clear.’
The practice has declined to comment.