Today your local Labour Councillors received a copy of a letter out of the blue to say that the Camrose, Gillies and Hackwood Surgery (CGH) will enter into a “partnership” with Operose Health effect from Friday 6 November 2020. We believe this is not so much a “partnership” but a sell out!
Our research shows that Operose Health is owned by US healthcare giant Centene Corporation. This organisations mode of operation appears to be to “offer” to take over the buildings and the running and of existing GP practices offering purchase of equity release schemes and then takes on GP and medical staff as their employees. The company seem to target GPs selling their premises, down-sizing for retirement or looking for funding.
However, this arrangement hasn’t always worked well for the patients of these GP practices. Some of the problems appear to be the high levels of locums doctors because they can’t find permanent salaried GPs and this can lead to a potential decline in quality of care for patients. There can be problems for patients getting through on the phone and making appointments. Never seeing the same doctor means having to keep going over the same issues with different doctors time and time again.
The strategy of Operose/Centene includes giving back the contracts to run GP practices to the CCGs as soon as they become “non-profitable”.
This will all seem familiar to patients at Rooksdown and Beggarwood who suffered similar problems when their GP surgery was sold in such a way.
It will also seem familiar to other affected GP practices up and down the county including the London based Camden Rd Surgery that was shut after 4 years of being taken over despite previously providing after 100 years of local service.
These big corporate giants hoover up GP practices and spit out those it doesn’t need. We see that kind of corporate behaviour with big supermarkets and small independent shops. We don’t expect it to happen to important medical services.
Labour Councillors raised serious concerns and objection when the three GP practices originally merged into one as we feared the creation of mega GP practices and the switch to profit-making before patients. We also sought assurances than none of the surgeries would close. It looks like those assurances may now be worth nothing.
Will all three surgeries survive? Could we be looking at the closure of Hackwood Surgery and its conversion into flats?
Cllr Andrew McCormick Leader of the Labour Opposition says he is very worried about these developments and the speed of implementation without any apparent consultation with residents. “Before long, we can see a situation where local GPs with a long-term commitment will be replaced with part-time salaried employees of a global giant and there will be very limited or no choice at all. Our most vulnerable patients will lose the continuity of care on which they depend.”
Cllr Kim Taylor (Labour Brighton Hill South) confirmed that she has written to the partners of the GP practice expressing her severe misgivings and extreme disappointment. “I am aware that GP practices in the main are private businesses, but I, like all members of the public do expect GP practices to act with a social conscience. This just another brick in the wall of legitimising the further privatisation of the NHS and quite literally selling out patients.”
"This just another brick in the wall of legitimising the further privatisation of the NHS and quite literally selling out patients.” Cllr Kim Taylor
Our most vulnerable patients will lose the continuity of care on which they depend.” Cllr Andrew MacCormick Labour Leader in Basingstoke.