Health chiefs admit no legal action on Camden Road GP surgery closure

Health chiefs will not be taking legal action over the controversial closure of a GP surgery despite admitting they are drawing up new contracts which would prevent the same situation happening again.

Caroline Taylor and Tony Hoolaghan, chief executive and associate director of NHS North Central London, spoke at a health scrutiny panel inquiry into the closure of Camden Road Practice last Thursday (May 31).

The practice was closed in April after the lease on the building ran out and attempts to find alternative premises proved futile after the landlord indicated he did not want to continue.

Private health care firm United Health won the contract to run the surgery in 2008 but, through a controversial share purchase, delivery of services was by Practice plc.

Health bosses told the inquiry that they were powerless to stop this happening as the delivery of the contract was not changing.

When asked if the change of provider meant the contract could be cancelled, Mr Hoolaghan said it did not.

“We took legal advice when that happened and we were informed that what had happened we could not prevent from continuing to happen,” he said.

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“Tonight is about learning and doing things in the future differently. You alluded to other contracts that we are getting the tendering work.

“We are currently, as part of our learning process, talking to our solicitors about giving ourselves protection – legal protection – to prevent this situation from arising again.”

Health bosses also said that they would not be taking legal action.

Ms Taylor said she would not want to waste public money “if my legal advice is that it is not appropriate”.

The closure was dogged with controversy over claims that patients and other surgeries were not given enough warning.

Health bosses refuted this and said that they begun talking to other practices as soon as they were made aware of a potential closure.

They said they did not want to inform patients to prevent mass migration before anything was rubber-stamped.

They also said that the number of patients identified as vulnerable – 10 per cent of the 4,700 patients – was in line with results from closures of other GP surgeries across London.

A third scrutiny meeting into the closure has been scrapped after both UnitedHealth and The Practice plc refused to attend.

The panel – comprised of councillors Paul Braithwaite, Peter Brayshaw and Angela Mason – will now write a report which will go to the council on June 22.