Sunderland GP surgery given extra cash to help deal with ‘high number’ of refugee and asylum seeker patients

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A Sunderland GP surgery was given extra cash to help it deal with high numbers of refugee and asylum seeker patients.

But health chiefs have refused to name the practice over concerns about recent ‘activity’ in the city.

‘Resilience support’ approved for last year to help doctors deal with language barriers and ‘associated problems’.

The issue was raised at last week’s (Thursday, April 25) meeting of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Primary Care Commissioning Committee.

Members of the panel were asked why the practice was not named in minutes for its previous meeting in February.

Ann Fox, the CCG’s director of nursing, quality and safety, said: “I would say probably the reason is the vulnerability of that population.

“We’ve had a lot of activity in the city that wouldn’t be helpful to those vulnerable groups.

“I don’t think we would want to identify the location for safety reasons.”

Under NHS England’s GP Forward View, practices can apply for resilience support founding to deal with issues they feel could affect care.

This can include help with diagnostic services to improve the speed of treatment, specialist guidance in areas such as IT and human resources and coaching or mentoring for staff.

In 2018/19, three surgeries in Sunderland received cash through this scheme.

One practice in a ‘vulnerable area’ applied on the basis of the ‘high number of asylum seekers and refugees registered’.

Another sought help with ‘workforce issues’ after a practice manager quit, while a third needed ‘specialist HR support’.

NHS England launched its General Practice Resilience Programme in 2016.

In a statement issued after the meeting, a CCG spokesman said: “The assessment and award of funding is an NHS England process which preserves the anonymity of practices due to the nature of the funding requests and to ensure patients are not inadvertently concerned about their practice receiving funding to support its sustainability.

“Naming practices could discourage practices that wish to apply for funding due to any label attached to it, and might also lead to concerns for patients who are not aware of the reason that their practice has been awarded the funding.

“Sunderland CCG does not wish to discourage applications or alarm patients needlessly, which is why the practice name was not shared at the meeting.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service