Council begin investigation into closure of popular Camden Road GP surgery

An investigation into the controversial closure of a GP surgery in Camden has heard that the handover of the practice from one private company to another may have been against the law.

The probe, which began last Thursday (May 10), is by Camden Council’s health scrutiny panel into the closure of Camden Road Practice.

It will consider whether the closure of the surgery, which had 4,700 patients, was avoidable and will scrutinise healthcare provided by the two private firms that managed the surgery from 2008 until its closure in April this year.

Three councillors Paul Braithwaite, Peter Brayshaw and Angela Mason on the scrutiny panel listened to evidence from former patients, a retired NHS manager, a former doctor at the surgery and the medical director of Londonwide Local Medical Committees (LMCs).

They raised concerns about the provision of healthcare and the alleged “illegal handover” of the contract for the surgery from one firm to another.

It was alleged that United Health (UH) should have been penalised for sub-contracting the surgery to The Practice PLC three years into a five-year contract.

Dr Paddy Glackin, medical director of Londonwide LMCs, said: “The idea that the contract could be sold to anybody that came along beggars belief.”

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He added “What’s happened in that practice is not normal. If you fail to fulfil the term of your practice, you are fined.

“We are not permitted to sub-contract what we do without the permission of the Primary Care Trust.”

Dr Glackin said he had never heard of a practice of its size, including patients who were known to have long-term illnesses, being “split and dispersed of”.

Patients who gave evidence said they were distressed by the level of care.

Central to their concerns was the high turnover of staff, including a high number of locum GPs working on a temporary basis.

Dr Glackin said a sudden change in patient depression rates at the surgery was indicative of poor levels of healthcare.

He said the likely cause was the high presence of locum doctors and said: “They are not as aware. They tend to be less organised and record less consistently and well.”

It also emerged that United Health was paid �74 per patient – �10 more than Dr Glackin said he was paid in his own surgery.

Concerns that patients were not properly consulted over the closure were also raised. Former patient Shula Chiat said the only consultation was when a fifth of patients were asked if they wanted to be allocated to a doctor, or dispersed.

The inquiry continues.