Focus on cost hits quality of successful APMS bids

PCTs are rejecting high-quality GP bids to run new APMS practices, because of a relentless focus on short-term costs, a think tank has warned.

Josh Ryan-Collins, a researcher at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), said that PCTs were expected to make annual 3-5 per cent efficiency savings across their budgets.

As a result, instead of prioritising quality, commissioners are choosing providers entirely on price. This means that higher quality but more expensive bids are often rejected - even if they would save money elsewhere in the NHS by improving outcomes.

'Focusing on price is an easy way out of having to make difficult decisions,' said Mr Ryan-Collins. 'If you want sustainable public services, you have to think about both inputs and long-term impact.'

NEF is calling for the current system of competitive tendering to be replaced by a new model focusing on 'public benefit'.

This would allow commissioners to take into account savings from other parts of the public purse, and wider benefits.

Camden Council has piloted NEF's system in its procurement of adult social care services. It chose a consortium of small, local providers, whose bid was not the cheapest, but which offered other benefits to the local community.

Such a system would likely benefit GPs, whose bids to provide services are often more expensive than those from private companies, but which include public health work and 'intangibles' such as links with the community.

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets, east London, whose bid to run a local practice lost out to a cheaper bid from Atos Healthcare, said it was clear that commissioning on price alone wouldn't produce the outcomes patients wanted.

But he called for PCTs to tender contracts at a fixed price, to force bidders to compete on quality. 'Once you bring price into it, you're always trading price against quality,' he said.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

BMA GP chair: 'GPs let down by tone deaf NHS demands on face-to-face appointments'

BMA GP chair: 'GPs let down by tone deaf NHS demands on face-to-face appointments'

NHS England has let down general practice with its 'tone deaf' demand for all patients...

GPs told to offer face-to-face appointments for all patients

GPs told to offer face-to-face appointments for all patients

GPs have condemned a 'blanket' demand from NHS England that all patients should be...

GP federation network seeks to boost primary care representation amid NHS reforms

GP federation network seeks to boost primary care representation amid NHS reforms

The NHS Confederation has set up a national network for GP federations in a bid to...

Sharp rise in GPs seeking mental health support during past year

Sharp rise in GPs seeking mental health support during past year

The number of GPs seeking help from NHS Practitioner Health, the specialist service...

Podcast: The GP workload crisis, mental wellbeing and vaccination success

Podcast: The GP workload crisis, mental wellbeing and vaccination success

In this episode of our new podcast Talking General Practice we look at the GP workload...

Long wait for COVID-19 public inquiry 'could drive doctors to quit NHS'

Long wait for COVID-19 public inquiry 'could drive doctors to quit NHS'

Doctors' leaders have criticised government plans to delay a public inquiry into...