GPs lose APMS bid despite outscoring firm

PCT favours 'cost-effectiveness measure' over service quality in battle to run London APMS surgeries.

Dr Stephen Amiel
Dr Stephen Amiel

An American healthcare company is to take over three London practices, despite the fact that a GP-led bid scored better on services offered but not value for money.

The Brunswick Medical Consortium has run one of the three practices since winning a short-term contract in June 2007.

Camden PCT scored the Brunswick bid to run all three surgeries until 2013 at 761/950 (80 per cent) for proposed service development.

The rival bid from United-Health Europe (UHE) won only 645.5/950 (68 per cent).

However, because UHE plans to spend less per patient it received a higher score on value for money, and the PCT named it as preferred bidder.

Chairman of Camden and Islington LMC Dr Stephen Amiel said: 'The LMC is extremely worried that the chosen provider may have underestimated the resources needed in this practice, which can only result in a poorer quality service for patients.'

A spokesman for the PCT said the company had offered 'the best bid at the best price'.

Since the Brunswick Medical Consortium took over the practice last year it has increased opening hours from 36 to 45 hours a week, and widened the range of specialist clinics on offer.

Dr Richard Halvorsen, one of the consortium's members, said that the PCT told him that bids which achieved scores below 80 per cent in any area would not be shortlisted.

'Then out of its head it produces a value for money index that we hadn't been told about,' he said. 'If we hadn't thought we had to achieve 80 per cent in all areas we wouldn't have put in as expensive a bid as we have.'

UHE rejects claims that its bid will mean worse services for patients, pointing to extended hours and outreach programmes at its exiting practice in Derby.

'These services have proved popular and over 1,000 new patients have joined the surgery,' said Dr Peter Smith, the company's director of primary care.

This is the second APMS contract in recent months to be awarded to a large multinational corporation instead of local GPs. In December, Tower Hamlets LMC issued a vote of no confidence in its PCT after the trust awarded a contract to run St Paul's Way Medical Centre to firm Atos Origin.

Do you have an APMS bid story that you would like to tell GP? Email jonn.elledge@haymarket.com.

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