Practice nurses are expected to keep their jobs and may benefit from enhanced support following the emergency transfer of some GP services in Derbyshire to a local hospital trust.
In a shock move blamed on staff shortages, health leaders have announced that the Holywell Medical Group, which covers patients in Chesterfield and Staveley, will no longer be able to provide GP services.
Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will step in as an “emergency caretaker” up to March next year, running services under the name Royal Primary Care in one of the first examples of a secondary care provider taking on primary care services in recent years.
Under the arrangement commissioned by NHS North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, three of the medical group’s five GP surgeries will continue to provide a full range of services and two will close.
“All current clinical staff have been given the opportunity to transfer over to Royal Primary Care”
Practice staff were told about the change at a meeting earlier this week while patients were informed in a joint letter from the CCG, NHS England and Royal Primary Care.
A spokesman for the CCG said practice nursing roles would be subject to TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – regulations designed to protect employees when a business changes hands.
They could also benefit from additional support and training from the hospital trust, he suggested.
“Continuity of care for the patients is a top priority and all current clinical staff have been given the opportunity to transfer over to Royal Primary Care,” he said.
“Practice nurses will be subject to TUPE. They will have access to education via the Chesterfield Royal Hospital and will have support for revalidation as well,” he added.
Doctors from Holywell Medical Group said the situation was the result of ongoing difficulties in recruiting staff, especially GPs and the financial pressures of having to use more locum doctors.
“We’re looking forward to bringing GP, primary care and hospitals services together in ways that will benefit all our patients”
However, the change has also been hailed an as opportunity to strengthen links between GP and hospital services, as part of wider efforts to provide more integrated care.
“This is the first integration of primary and secondary care in the North Derbyshire area and it is an exciting new challenge,” said Dr Nadine Kale, senior partner at Holywell Medical Group.
“The support provided by the Chesterfield Royal Hospital will free up more GP time to see patients which was previously spent on the managing the practice,” she said.
Chesterfield Royal’s chief executive, Gavin Boyle, said the organisation was already looking at ways to strengthen services on offer at the three remaining sites.
“We are delighted to step in to sustain these services for local people and we’re looking forward to bringing GP, primary care and hospitals services together in ways that will benefit all our patients,” he said.