7% rise in number of privately-run GP practices since last year

The proportion of GP practices run by a private company has increased by 7% since last year, a GP investigation shows.

Dr Vautrey: ‘With larger organisations, management is much more remote. You begin to lose that local connection that drives up quality.’
Dr Vautrey: ‘With larger organisations, management is much more remote. You begin to lose that local connection that drives up quality.’

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed eight out of 92 PCTs increased the number of practices that are run by private companies since last year.

A total off 11 practices have moved to private control since 2010 across the eight PCTs.

NHS Tower Hamlets, which is now part of the East London and City PCT cluster, was the only PCT to reduce the number of practices run by private companies since last year.

It comes as GP leaders predict that private companies will run one in 10 GP practices by 2014, more than doubling their current market share.

Bart Johnson, chief executive of firm Assura Medical, said any service it provides must ‘improve health outcomes for our patients, be of a high quality and provide a better deal for the taxpayers’.

He said: ‘We have introduced a range of benefits across the practices that we operate, but what we are most proud of is our ability to listen to and act upon what our patients want.

‘In one of our Northampton practices for example, we were able to quickly respond to our patients who told us that they were finding it difficult to get an appointment by introducing a new appointment booking system which has resulted in immediate improvements to patient satisfaction.’

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the main concern with larger privately-run organisations is that the management is ‘much more remote’.

He said: ‘GPs are usually local people who are accountable to communities. You face your patients in local supermarkets as well as in your surgery.

‘With larger organisations, management is much more remote. You begin to lose that local connection that drives up quality.’

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