PCT awards APMS contract to private firm ahead of GPs

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 awarded its bid to run all three until 2013 a score of 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). But because the company plans to spend less per patient it received a higher score on value for money, and the PCT named it as preferred bidder.

‘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,' said Dr Stephen Amiel, chairman of Camden and Islington LMC.

A spokesman for the PCT said the company 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 of less than 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 really popular and over 1,000 new patients have joined the surgery,' said Dr Peter Smith, the company's director of primary care.

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

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