GPs 'can beat private providers'

GPs providing services under the government's any qualified provider (AQP) scheme have urged more practices to bid for the contracts.

Dr Mark Attah: 'Practices can do it. You need to find a gap in services'
Dr Mark Attah: 'Practices can do it. You need to find a gap in services'

Although private companies dominate the list of providers approved to offer care under AQP, successful practices are saying that other GPs can do it too.

Practices that have bid for work say it has helped them to retain enhanced services, offer the care patients want and even prepare for CQC registration.

Services under AQP can be offered by any NHS, private or voluntary organisation approved by a PCT.

The Bretton Medical Practice in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, provides a vasectomy service under AQP. Partner Dr Mark Attah said the practice had run the service since 2005 and its contract was renewed under AQP last autumn. 'Practices can do it,' Dr Attah said. 'You need to find a gap in services.'

Collaborating with other practices and speaking to those already providing services under AQP could help GPs mount successful bids, he said. Dr Attah described AQP as a 'positive thing' that helped deliver 'what patients want' - more services outside hospital.

The Ecclesfield Group Practice in Sheffield runs a community cardiology diagnostics service under AQP, allowing patients to take home an ECG monitor for 24 hours. Partner Dr Andrew McCoye said: 'They love it. It saves them going into hospital.'

The practice previously offered cardiology diagnostics as a local enhanced service, and retained the work after a successful bid under AQP.

Dr McCoye admitted the application process involved 'quite a big document'. But despite a PCT request for extra information, he added: 'It wasn't too onerous.'

The Lander Medical Practice in Truro, Cornwall, provides a musculoskeletal back and neck pain service under AQP.

Practice manager Liz Wilson said a team of about four completed the bid, compiling data on equality and diversity, workforce and care pathways. 'It was useful because preparing the documents and policies stood us in good stead for CQC registration.'

She said other practices could follow suit. 'You can do it. The most difficult part was trying to load it on to the website.'

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