Your Society are making changes to Co-operative Medical Care
Due to a number of reasons, your Society have started a consultation period to look at the future of Co-operative Medical Care. The surgeries will run as normal until the summer and we will keep all our patients informed of any future updates.
We introduced Co-operative Medical Care in 2014, which was widely welcomed by islanders. The business was based on a financial model which allowed the Society to offer low cost healthcare to islanders and enable our members to receive dividend on GP appointment payments. Unfortunately the Society has not been able to register as many patients or recruit enough GPs as were needed to sustain the model.
Your Society will now look at a number of options for the future of the business and it is hoped a positive decision will be made at the end of the consultation period in April.
Mark Cox, acting CEO of the Society, said: ‘We are committed to working with our team to identify any opportunities for the future of the medical business.
‘This review is necessary as our financial model for Co-operative Medical Care - which focused on offering low cost healthcare to islanders - has not proved sustainable due to being unable to grow the business to the optimum size. We will be supporting all of our patients during this time and all three GP surgeries will run as normal until the summer. We will inform patients as and when decisions are made about the future of the business and it is hoped to cause as little disruption as possible.
‘There are not enough GPs on island and, like many other practices, Co-operative Medical Care has struggled to recruit GPs. This key issue has prevented us from growing the business in the way we would have anticipated and unfortunately, as a consequence, Co-operative Medical Care has not achieved its financial targets and we have taken the difficult decision to end our provision of GP services. We have a responsibility to our members, the owners of our business, to make difficult decisions for the long-term stability of the group.’
Why is the Society reviewing its medical care business?
Unfortunately the Society is entering a consultation period and reviewing the future of Co-operative Medical Care due to a number of reasons, including struggling to recruit GPs and adopting a sustainable financial model, which although offered low cost medical care to islanders, has not remained profitable.
The business was based on a financial model which allowed the Society to offer low cost healthcare to islanders and enable members to receive dividend on GP appointment payments. Unfortunately the Society have not been able to register as many patients as were needed to sustain the model.
We have a responsibility to our members, the owners of our business, to make difficult decisions for the long-term stability of the group. We will make sure our medical colleagues and patients are kept updated during this difficult time.
How do you plan to make sure patients have access to a GP until a final decision is made?
We aim to create as little disruption to our patients as possible and will continually keep them in the loop with regards to any updates for the business. If any of our patients should have any concerns during this time period they can contact their surgery who will help answer any queries.
As we are going to consultation we cannot yet advise what will be happening to our three GP practices – whether the business will be taken over, sold or closed. We will be able to inform our customers about the future of the practices when the consultation period ends in late April.
What will happen to patients who have regular appointments / repeat prescriptions / in the middle of treatment?
There will be no changes to repeat appointments, referrals or any other aspect of our service. As soon as the consultation period ends in late April, we will be contacting our patients to advise them of the future plan for Co-operative Medical Care whether it will close, be sold or be taken over. Patients will be free to decide whether they wish to stay with the practice, if it continues, or if they wish to follow their GP, should their GP move elsewhere.
How many staff are employed at Co-operative Medical Care and will be affected?
A total of 25 staff will be affected by this decision. All affected colleagues have been informed by the Society and have now entered a consultation period. A decision about the future of the three practices will be reached by late spring, following consultation with affected colleagues. The Society will be offering alternative roles to as many colleagues as possible, however, there will be those with specific skills sets, such as GPs, who may look for alternative employment. All colleagues will be offered redundancy as an option.
Why is it not sustainable to keep the business as it is?
We are proud to have led the way with reduced GP fees in Jersey, a hugely positive move which saw many practices follow suit, ensuring islanders have access to medical care services at prices that they can better afford. But unfortunately by offering low cost healthcare and dividend to our members, we have created a financial model which has not proved sustainable. We have not been able to reach our expectations or optimize on our three community surgeries due to patient and GP numbers. We would need to double both the amount of GPs we employ and patients on our books to create a more sustainable model.
Was there a failure in management of this business?
There were no failures. We have spent time looking very closely at the options available to us and we feel that now is the right time for us to end our provision of medical care services. We have not made this decision lightly and we have several options we are exploring for the future of the business.
Do you still believe introducing lower GP appointment fees was the correct thing to do five years ago? Did this lead to the business being unsustainable?
We are extremely proud that we were able to lead the way with cheaper GPs fees and have remained one of the cheapest GP practices in Jersey since opening in 2014. Due to no fault of our own, this approach has meant that the business has become unsustainable. The primary reason for the financial underperformance of Co-op Medical Care has been down to the challenges we have faced in recruiting GPs, facilitating the growth needed.
Will Co-op’s pharmacies be affected?
We are committed to continuing our profitable pharmacy business, which is a key benefit to our members, and all Co-operative Pharmacy Locales will remain open as usual. Depending on the future plan for the medical practices, there may be some impact on our co-located pharmacies in certain locations and we are keeping our pharmacy colleagues fully up to date with the plans.
How long is the consultation period?
The consultation will be 70 days.
What is the consultation? What are the aims of the consultation?
The aim of the consultation is to speak with our Medical Care colleagues and find out if they have any suggestions about the future of the business. We will be speaking to each individual affected at least twice during the 70 days.
What will happen to patient records?
All patient records will be handled in exactly the same way as they would be by any other practice. If a customer chooses to move practice, these will be sent on to their new GP. If Co-operative Medical Care is bought or taken over, and customers remain with the practice, the records will remain in place.
What do you plan to do with the business?
We are entering a period of consultation to hear the views of our colleagues. A number of options are being explored by the Society.
Do you regret setting up Co-operative Medical Care?
The Society does not regret opening our Medical Care business and we remain extremely proud to have been able to offer islanders low cost healthcare. We listened to our members, who wanted us to move into the medical care sector, and we put together a great offering. We led the way in lowering GPs fees for many islanders, which was bold, but has resulted in more accessible primary care for many.
What has the cost of this been to members?
There hasn’t been a direct cost to members as we’ve maintained the 4% dividend for many years. We have a duty to manage the Society in such a way that ensures it is sustainable and in profit every year and by making this difficult decision we can do that.
Will Co-op Medical Care close? Is there a defined date?
At the moment we don't know if the three practice sites will close – it will depend on if it is taken over or sold. Whatever route is agreed, these changes are scheduled to take place in summer 2020. We will be able to confirm the date and what will be happening when the consultation process concludes in late April.
What will happen to the current practice buildings?
Their use will be determined by the outcome of the consultation.