Exclusive: Half of PCTs may outsource services

Commercial health companies could take over in-house PCT services in nearly half of England's PCTs, a GP newspaper survey has found.

Of 66 PCTs who answered a Freedom of Information request, 39% were considering putting some or all of their in-house services out to tender in the next few years. Also 18% said no decision had yet been reached.

Just 42% of PCTs had no plans to put services out to tender – and more than half of these made clear that the situation could change.

Full results of the GP newspaper investigation here.

NHS Alliance vice chairman Dr Donal Hynes, who has researched PCT provider services, said the figures seemed at odds with current DoH thinking. ‘The move now is away from putting services out to tender,’ he said, and there was now a ‘different mood’ than two years ago.

A DoH paper released in January said PCTs should ‘foster appropriate competition’ to improve services previously provided in-house.

Some PCTs said no services would be put out to tender over the next few years, while others said only a proportion would.
But some suggested there would be a more radical shift.

Dr Hynes said tendering could help create new services, or to put pressure on poorly performing existing providers.
But he warned: ‘Tendering is not conducive to rapid change. You want to have a very good reason to go out to tender. It smacks of not managing integration as well as you might.’

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

  • Read this week’s GP dated 17 April for the full version of this story.

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