Exclusive - Half of PCTs miss health centre target

GPs are winning most GP-led health centre contracts as DoH deadlines slip.

Nearly half of PCTs missed the end of 2008 deadline for signing up a provider to run their GP-led health centre, a GP investigation shows.

Forty-seven per cent of the 53 PCTs that responded to a request for information have not yet signed a contract with a provider.

The investigation also found that GPs and GP-led consortia are continuing to beat off competition from the private sector to win health centre contracts.

Just two out of 26 contracts to run GP-led health centres so far have been awarded to large private companies - Care UK in Liverpool and Harmoni in North East Essex.

GP-led organisations and local GP consortia have won 17.

Three contracts were awarded to social enterprises and four went to partnerships between large companies, such as Assura, and local GPs.

Despite being named as shortlisted bidders by PCTs around the UK, big names Atos Healthcare and United Health have failed to win any contracts for GP-led health centres so far in England.

The DoH predicted last year that GPs would win most of the contracts for the 152 new GP-led health centres, and the first one opened in Bradford in November last year.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said the findings were a 'victory for common sense'.

'What would have depressed me is if 100 per cent of PCTs were on track and they'd all hired private providers.

'But this shows PCTs are valuing delivery by frontline clinicians, and taking their time to decide what their priorities are. It's better to get things right than to get them done quickly.

'It's a great tribute to frontline practitioners that they have been able to compete with some of the biggest healthcare firms.'

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said she was delighted that GPs were winning the contracts. But she added: 'It's a huge shame PCTs have not been able to invest in existing services long-term.'

She said it was still unclear how GP-led centres would work and how GP consortia would run them.

'I have the same concerns with larger national GP-led companies as I do with any that exist to make a profit for their shareholders.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

Health Centre Target
47% of PCTs missed the deadline for signing GP-led health centre contracts.

Source: GP survey

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