APMS ruins partnership hopes

A PCT in one of England's most under-doctored areas is putting a practice out to tender under APMS, dashing the partnership hopes of the salaried GP working there.

Critics are appalled that GPs being brought in to turn around failing or run-down practices are then being sidelined by the APMS bidding process.

Kent GP Dr Simon Collins claims that Swale PCT offered him the running of Iwade Health Centre in Sittingbourne last autumn only to withdraw the offer.

Dr Collins, who is employed by Swale PCT on £76,000, built the practice up in four years from 1,800 to 5,500 patients, won two awards for the best practice in West Kent and is expecting his first registrar next February.

But he said that he heard last month that the PCT is now putting the practice out to tender with three others under APMS.

Dr Collins said: 'We can apply along with everyone else but the practice that we have built up is the carrot for all the other bidders. This makes us feel devalued.'

Swale PCT said that no final decision on tendering had been made but declined to comment further.

Swale PCT is ranked fourth least-doctored PCT in England, with 43.8 whole-time-equivalent GPs per 100,000 population.

Kent LMC clerk David Barr said: 'The PCT put all its four PCT-run practices together to offer to one bidder. GPs are being asked to compete with private organisations whose resources are significantly different.

'This approach can give no guarantees of better services and care to patients nor that they provide better value for money.'

Elsewhere in Kent, three GPs' plans to provide GMS for two amalgamated practices in a well-heeled rural village have been foiled by the PCT's surprise decision to invite APMS bids.

The three village doctors built up their practice for three years with the intention of taking over a neighbouring practice after the retirement of the incumbent GP.

One of the GPs, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'The PCT encouraged us to our faces when we told them a year ago that we were interested.

We thought it was a done deal.'

The GPs have been looking after all of the village's 6,000 patients but have been told they cannot take the surgery over.

Last month the PCT board voted to invite APMS bids 'to align with national policy with regard to... premium quality and value for money'.

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