PCT abandons APMS after GP protests

An east London PCT has abandoned plans for five APMS practices, following protests from GPs.

Dr Kambiz Boomla
Dr Kambiz Boomla

Tower Hamlets PCT hit the headlines last winter when it awarded the contract for the St Paul's Way practice in Bow to IT services company Atos Origin. The decision was met by a crowd of protesters and a vote of no confidence from the area's LMC.

The PCT was considering inviting bids to take over five more practices it currently runs. But instead it is now giving each practice a year to improve, while it adopts a more arms-length approach to management.
Successful practice teams will then be invited to submit business cases to take over the practices as independent contractors.

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP at a practice in Poplar, said that the PCT had been ‘so shocked by the scale of the protests [against Atos Origin] that it stopped them in its tracks'.

‘There's a direct link to the loss of confidence that GPs felt over that policy,' he added.

Jeremy Gardner, the PCT's communications director, said that the protests had some impact on the trust's thinking. ‘But the [APMS] process is quite time consuming, in terms of staff and management input,' he said. ‘So we came up with another direction that meant better services for local people and decided to go with that.'

The performance of the five practices will be assessed quarterly until March. New contracts could be signed by August 2009.

But any practice which does not improve could still be subject to an APMS tender.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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