Co-operative Medical Care (CMC) was launched by the Channel Islands Co-operative Society in 2014 and now operates three GP practices in Jersey. But a lack of GPs, and a now-unsustainable business model means that new options are being looked at.
The Society will run its three practices on Jersey as normal until the summer while a consultation takes place with the 25 colleagues affected. A decision on whether the three locations will be taken over, sold or closed, is expected by late spring.
Jersey isn’t part of the NHS; emergency hospital treatments are free, but patients have to pay for visits to the doctor, non-emergency hospital treatment and other care, treatment and related costs, including travel costs. Long-term residents can receive a health card, which gives discounted GP costs. CMC is based on a financial model that allowed the society to offer low-cost healthcare to islanders and enable members to receive a dividend on GP appointment payments. Unfortunately, the Society was not able to register as many patients as were needed to sustain the model. An additional issue was, like many other GP practices in Jersey, the island-wide issue of recruitment.
Mark Cox, acting CEO of the Society, said: “It is no secret that there are not enough GPs on the island and, like many other practices, CMC 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, CMC 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.”
He added that the society was “committed to working with our team to identify any opportunities for the future of the medical business” and wanted to explore as many options as possible while causing the least amount of disruption. To continue, CMC would have to double the number of registered patients as well as employ more GPs. “Our model is very different from other island surgeries which fall under the owner/ partner model,” said Mr Cox. The society has committed to continuing its profitable pharmacy business, which has four outlets.
The Society welcomed government plans to introduce a scheme that would potentially help fund GP appointments for certain vulnerable groups. CMC offers standard consultation GP appointments for £39, which is one of the lowest GP costs on the island.
Mr Cox added: “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 afford.”