Hundreds of practices have received warning letters, accusing them of breaching their contracts, it was revealed last night.
Last year the number of these practices in England increased by half, reaching 421, The BMJ revealed. Notices of contractual breach can be issued for a range of reasons – and the BMJ investigation suggests practices vary across England.
Some 174 notices were issued in the East of England while just 11 were issued in the South West.
Notices can be issued because of unauthorised surgery closure or closing of patient lists, failure to comply with data collection requirements or issued raised by Care Quality Commission inspectors.
Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “Clinical commissioning groups endeavour to be as supportive as possible of their GP member practices in helping to find solutions to longstanding pressures in order to improve patient care.
“However, when acting as commissioners of primary care under delegation from NHS England, they are expected to act in accordance with NHS England issued national guidance on the contractual management process they need to follow.”
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said receiving a notice would cause “significant concern” in a practice. He said: “It’s vitally important that CCGs make every effort to support practices rather than taking punitive action.”