Darzi centre is 'overfunded and failing to attract patients'

The director of a Tyne and Wear Darzi centre has called for an inquiry after revealing the practice receives around £816 a year per patient.

Dr Megson: new Darzi centre receives £816 a year per patient (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Megson: new Darzi centre receives £816 a year per patient (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

Dr Ken Megson, secretary of Gateshead LMC and director of the Medicus practice in Gateshead, told the LMCs conference it had failed to attract patients and was wasting money.

To audible gasps, Dr Megson told how just 250 patients have registered at the practice - well below its target of 1,500.

It effectively receives £816 per patient, he said. The weighted pay per patient for GMS practices is around £64.

'It's a disgrace to be getting paid this much money for doing nothing,' he said. 'The PCT will not publish the costs, but I will.'

Dr Megson said it was clear 'from day one' that the new practice was surplus to requirements and poorly located. He described the PCT's public consultations as 'events where there were more people from the PCT than members of the public'.

Delegates backed a motion calling for an independent body to report on the cost effectiveness of GP-led health centres across England.

GPs, campaign groups and the press have struggled to obtain figures on the cost of the APMS centres because PCTs say the information is commercially sensitive. 'It's not commercially sensitive, it's commercially embarrassing,' said Dr Megson.

A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Gateshead PCT, said it was reviewing its APMS contracts. 'Discussions are ongoing with the contract holders as part of the review, which will inform future commissioning arrangements,' she said.

Delegates called for APMS contracts to be covered by the Freedom of Information Act to allow their value for money to be scrutinised in the same way as PMS and GMS.

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