Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) withdrew £73,000 of funding to finance a new tourist service, forcing GPs at Ambleside and Hawkshead practices to hand back contracts last month, Pulse reports.
The proposal from NHS Morecambe CCG from June this year, seen by Pulse, said: “To support the local tourist population it is proposed that a dedicated telephone triage line is provided between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday during peak tourist periods (13 weeks per year).”
Locally-registered patients would be excluded and asked to contact their own practice, authors added.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “If this scenario had been submitted as an MRCGP exam question to highlight how not to run a primary care system, it would be thrown out as being too far-fetched. But this is actually happening and is being played out in real life, to real people. Everything we know about the pillars of general practice – access, capacity, flexibility, continuity – are all being up-ended in slow motion.
“I’ve heard of NHS winter planning, but NHS holiday planning is new to me. There’s so much to unpack here, and a good starting place would be to see the data that says an intervention like this is needed in the first place. At the end of the day it will be the local community that suffers from this overenthusiastic fix to a short term issue.”