Plymouth GP surgery job cuts at former Mayflower Medical Group

Trelawny GP Surgery in Ham Drive, Plymouth -Credit:Google
Trelawny GP Surgery in Ham Drive, Plymouth -Credit:Google

The company which has just taken over five Plymouth GPs’ surgeries is to make redundancies as it is hit with patient complaints. Fuller and Forbes Healthcare Group said it will be axing clinical and non-clinical staff but aims to keep the number of job losses “low”.

It said the cuts are necessary as it moves away from online, telephone, and remote consultations and towards more face-to-face appointments. It comes after PlymouthLive has received complaints from patients at the surgeries to say they can’t get to see a doctor.

Fuller and Forbes Healthcare Group was chosen to take over the five Mayflower Primary Care Network from Livewell Southwest CIC in late 2023. Livewell had taken control of the Mayflower GP practices in April 2022 when Devon Doctors decided not to renew a contract.

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The Mayflower surgeries provided GP services for 34,000 people in Plymouth and include the surgeries at Stirling Road, Ernesettle Medical Centre, Mount Gould, Trelawny and Mannamead. Fuller and Forbes Healthcare Group has now taken full control with a 10-year contract starting on April 1 this year.

A spokesperson for Fuller and Forbes Healthcare Group said: “Our immediate focus areas are to significantly increase the number of face-to-face appointments at our practice sites, and therefore substantially reduce the use of clinicians who work remotely and often manage patient care from home. We are transitioning from a model that prioritised online, telephone, and remote consultations — which required our patients to travel between sites — to a model where each site will provide a full face-to-face service to the local population.

“Patients will be able to call or visit their local branch to make an appointment. This change is driven by patient feedback, which not only informed, but also strongly supported the planned changes.

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"The shift toward a more traditional model of general practice will necessitate changes in the workforce. We anticipate some redundancies across both non-clinical and clinical staff.

“However, we expect this number to be low as we plan to redeploy some affected individuals to new roles created within the evolving structure of general practice. An ongoing consultation process has been established to manage these changes, providing affected staff with the opportunity to express their concerns and explore alternative options.

"We fully acknowledge the anxiety and uncertainty these changes may cause for both patients and staff. We are committed to providing support throughout this transition period.”

While controlled by Devon Doctors, the Mayflower group of surgeries was rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission. During its time with Livewell this rating rose to “good”.

However in the past month, Plymouth Live has received emails from patients worried about the future of the surgeries and complaining about the service they received, albeit sometimes before the Fuller and Forbes contract began. Some people were worried that a loss of staff would exacerbate problems getting appointments.

One wrote: “There are not enough appointments available now to see clinicians. I have waited three weeks for a practice nurse appointment. My wife needs to speak with a GP regarding her blood results from two weeks ago. She asked when a GP would speak with her, to be told there are 600 patients in the same position. If the situation continues we will be forced to change surgeries.”

Another said: “People are waiting more than six weeks to even get a call back from a doctor. I did a e-consult and hadn’t had a call back for six to seven weeks. When asked how long it could be before I get an appointment I was told that they have more than 500 phone call appointments waiting. People are being turned away and people are waiting six weeks to even get a response from an e-consult let alone get help for the problem.”

And another said: “In February I completed an e-consult and was told no one would call me back until the eighth day. I knew I had an infection and had made this clear on the e-consult but still they didn’t prioritise me. As it was, I ended up going to A&E to get care, from advice from 111, and had surgery the next day. If I had not challenged and had waited eight days I was told my condition would have gotten quite serious and led to sepsis. Whilst I was off it took 19 days to get a sick note to give to my employer. The service the public are receiving on higher staff numbers is very, very poor so I cannot fathom about the level of care we would receive at less staffing.”