DoH secrecy hinders polyclinic commissioning

PCTs do not have the tools they need to commission new polyclinics, because the DoH has refused to release key tender documents.

The PCT Procurement Framework, a set of documents and guidance for trusts procuring the new Darzi centres, has been available online for months. Yet documents which offer guidance on how to evaluate bids following the ‘invitation to tender' stage remain unavailable.

Dr Richard Halvorsen, one of the London GPs who last year made an unsuccessful bid for an APMS practice in Camden, said the documents should be released so that bidders know how they are being judged. ‘It would help make the process more transparent and publicly accountable,' he said

He added that the lack of documentation added to fears the government was ‘rushing into polyclinics in rather a big way'.

A DoH spokeswoman said that the government was holding the documents back to avoid ‘any potential conflicts of interest' while other PCTs procure new practices for under-doctored areas under the Fairness in Primary Care programme.

She added that PCTs were unlikely to need the new documents before June.

PCTs procuring new APMS practices outside either programme, such as Tower Hamlets and Camden, also have to make do without DoH guidance.

These trusts are expected to develop their own documentation with which to evaluate bids.

Both GPs and alternative bidders have complained that it is often unclear what PCTs are looking for.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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