Shropshire Star

Chiefs exploring 'Plan B' alternative to super GP hub scheme amid funding uncertainty

A 'Plan B' is being investigated in case £60m of funding for Shrewsbury's super GP hub falls through, it has been confirmed.

Last updated
Councillors have been updated on the future of the super GP hub project for Shrewsbury

Shropshire Council's Health and Adult Social Care Overview Scrutiny Committee was this morning updated on the progress for the scheme by the man leading the project, Gareth Robinson.

It came after NHS England confirmed it had 'paused' the development of business cases for the six hubs, known as 'Cavell Centres', across the country.

It said that the delay was to allow it to develop an overall business case for the schemes – to be put to the Government as part of an upcoming spending review.

Mr Robinson, executive director for delivery and transformation at NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin, told the committee that the delay means it is now looking at alternative plans for the practices involved.

But he was clear in warning the committee that it would be "really challenging" for patients and primary care in Shrewsbury if they have to pursue a plan B, instead of the hub model.

The hub would become the new home of six of Shrewsbury's doctors' surgeries – The Beeches Medical Practice, Belvidere Medical Practice, Claremont Bank Surgery, Marden Medical Practice, Marysville Medical Practice and South Hermitage Surgery.

Mr Robinson said the latest developments meant it was prudent to consider alternatives.

He said: "Given that the risk landscape for the programme has now changed, inevitably with that is the ability to ask 'why are we pausing, what are the consequences, what decision will be made?'

"We have no insight into that – the language they have used is 'until a business case has been submitted' so I am confident that the process will continue, but I have to work on the basis that there is a degree of risk that we were not previously factoring in.

"Therefore we have asked the programme team to start working up a set of options around the GP practices affected that, in light of the change to the national position, give us a plan B."

Mr Robinson told the committee that replacing the level of investment which would come with the hub plan – understood to be around £60m – would be extremely difficult.

He said: "The hub approach brings with it a significant level of funding and investment into Shrewsbury. Plan B is how do we mitigate the loss of that funding? There is a lot of work to be done but it will not be at the scale that this is describing and the loss of this funding will be a loss of investment in primary care services in Shrewsbury.

"The work we have done within the hub has demonstrated the inability to fund alternatives for those six practices."

Mr Robinson said he wanted to be clear with the members of the committee that losing the hub as an option "won't be a good position".

He said: "Be in no doubt, if we change direction that will be really challenging for NHS Shropshire Telford & Wrekin and for our patients and our citizens.

"This was a really, really strong route to funding for our primary care practices. If we do change direction that does take us back to a position where we have to find alternative options for our primary care services and that won't be a good position for us to be in. It will be a really challenging place for us to be in as a care system."