Exclusive: GPs beat firms to win 70 per cent of APMS contracts

PCTs are awarding 70 per cent of tendered contracts to run GP services to local practices and GP-led companies rather than to national or multinational conglomerates.

The finding is from an England-wide survey of all PCTs using the Freedom of Information Act.

It should go some way towards calming fears that PCTs do not offer a level playing field and skew their decisions in favour of companies who artificially drop their rates in order to get a foot in to the primary care market.

That fear was fuelled this month when health secretary Alan Johnson told The Guardian that ‘lots' of the government's 100 new ‘Darzi' GP practices and 150 GP-led health centres would be run by private companies.

Last year GP and government access adviser Dr Sam Everington lost out to Atos Healthcare in a bid to run an APMS practice in Tower Hamlets.

But GP's survey shows that when contracts have gone out to tender, they have been awarded to GPs and GP-led companies more than twice as often as to other healthcare providers.

Greenbrook Healthcare in Hammersmith, west London is putting the finishing touches to its APMS contract with Hounslow PCT after beating off 41 other small GP practices and international conglomerates to run six practices in nearby Hounslow. Greenbrook is run by six GPs at the Brook Green Medical Centre in Hammersmith.

‘While it can be done by a small group of people who have two jobs, it's easier if you have paid employees to prepare the bid for you,' said Greenbrook chief executive Michael Steel.

A spokesman for SSP Health, a GP partnership led by the husband-and-wife team Dr Sanjay and Dr Shikha Pitalia that beat nine contenders to win the contract to provide services at Hale Village in Halton and St Helens PCT, said GPs can offer staff better conditions and particularly NHS pensions than private providers.

In Brighton and Hove, local GP Dr Nigel Higson won the contract to provide services at Portland Road as sole bidder.

‘I think the role of private providers will increase as older GPs like me retire and the younger generation just don't want to take on the stress and workload that we've shouldered.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, the deputy chairman of the GPC, said: ‘GPs have a track record of delivering high standards of care through their existing arrangements, and this will be visible to PCTs.'


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