Exclusive: GPs dominate shortlists for Darzi centres

GPs have outdone private bidders in the race to run GP-led health centres across England.

GPs are outnumbering private companies in the final stages of bidding to run 150 new GP-led health centres across England.

Data from 100 PCTs obtained by GP shows that on average just a third (33.4 per cent) of bids making it through the second round of the procurement process are from private firms.

The majority (57 per cent) are from GP-led organisations and the remaining 10 per cent of bids are from social enterprises and other NHS organisations. Bids at this stage have gone through the rigorous pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) and will now be evaluated by the PCT.

In the eight PCTs where contracts have been awarded already, six have gone to local GPs or GP-led consortia.

Data from three SHAs was broadly consistent, with GPs or GP-led companies dominating the final stages of bidding.

In the West Midlands, 70 per cent of bidders making it through the PQQ stage were GP-led, and in the south west of England just 15 per cent came from the private sector.

The data add weight to health secretary Alan Johnson's suggestion earlier this year that GPs would win 'most of the APMS bids', a statement echoed this month by DoH national clinical director for primary care Dr David Colin-Thome.

Private sector interest in primary care has been unpredictable over the past few months, with the credit crunch tying up vital capital for some of the largest companies.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs securing contracts for the 150 new health centres would be 'damage limitation'.

'Ultimately we wish the government had not forced through any health centres that are not needed in the first place.

'However in this position we are pleased that GPs are bidding for them and we hope that GPs will run them in the ethos of a proper GP organisation and its values of continuity of care.'

Dr Nagpaul was unsure how the new breed of large, entrepreneurial, GP-led companies would affect communities.

'Time will tell how these large GP organisations will run the centres but they will certainly be the least damaging option.'

The data from PCTs also show that 31 per cent are struggling to keep up with the DoH's tight timetable, which requires contracts for GP-led health centres to be signed by December.

PCTs in London negotiated an extension to the timetable earlier this year, giving them until 2010 to develop their GP-led health centres.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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