BMA chairman wins polyclinic bid and rejects hypocrisy allegation

The success of a consortium including the BMA's chairman in winning a £4m GP-led health centre contract has been welcomed by ministers.

Dr Hamish Meldrum (photograph:MCG)
Dr Hamish Meldrum (photograph:MCG)

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum’s practice in Bridlington, east Yorkshire, is one of four which partnered the provider arm of East Riding of Yorkshire PCT to win the contract.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: ‘I am delighted by this vote of confidence from the head of the BMA in the new GP-led health centre programme.’

The Guardian broke the story and points out that the BMA ran a campaign last summer describing polyclinics as a threat to the traditional relationship of trust between GPs and patients.

Dr Meldrum explains that local GPs came under pressure when another of the town’s practices formed an alliance with a commercial company to bid for the contract.

The GPs not part of the deal decided to collaborate with the PCT’s provider arm to put in a rival bid to avoid commercialisation of the service.

Dr Meldrum tells The Guardian: ‘I am not taking a lead in this. The reason my name is there is that I am the senior partner in the practice, but I only do one day a week. My involvement will be small. What is happening is probably the least worst option. I would deny the charge of hypocrisy.’

A BMA spokesman said: ‘The BMA has never been opposed to the principle of polyclinics where there is proven clinical need. We have objected to their imposition on every PCT in England, the fact that many were proposed on inappropriate sites and that in many areas the tendering process appeared to favour commercial bidders. Many GP practices have got involved in an attempt to protect local services and maintain high quality care locally.

'Dr Meldrum has no financial interest in the Bridlington GP access centre, will have no day-to-day involvement with the running of the centre and neither his practice nor the three other town practices will gain financially from their association with this not-for-profit organisation which is being led by the provider-arm of the PCT.’

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