Government wants 5% of practices to be private-run

The government's vision is for 5 per cent of England's 8,500 practices to be run by the private sector, according to the former chief executive of UnitedHealth Europe.

Richard Smith, now director of the Ovations Chronic Diseases Initiative - part of UnitedHealth's US operation - said the firm was bidding to run 90 practices. It currently runs six of the 40 practices in England which are in private hands.

Mr Smith said the DoH was using the threat of the private sector to drive up quality: 'I don't think the government has a vision of 50 per cent of primary care supplied by big companies.

'It's probably something like 5 per cent. It hopes that will be enough to ginger up the rest.'

He said that UnitedHealth had seen 'very dramatic improvement' since taking over a practice in central Derbyshire. 'Patients increased by 40 per cent, quality scores increased and it is now open 8am to 8pm, with Saturday opening on the way.'

Mr Smith said that all the neighbouring practices that had previously closed their lists had now opened them.

He added that 'ultimately United does not see itself as a business taking clapped out practices and improving them'.

Instead it was considering whether there was demand from GPs to hire its technology and commissioning expertise.

However, a GP in the audience warned: 'If 5 per cent of practices are taken over by the private sector, you have to wonder if this is the beginning of the privatisation of primary care.'

neil.durham@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

Rebuild GP campaign logo

Hundreds of GPs sign open letter highlighting 'decades of neglect' of general practice

Hundreds of GPs have signed an open letter to patients warning that 'decades of neglect'...

Dr Farah Jameel

PCNs are 'existential threat' to GP independent contractor model, BMA warns

The BMA's England GP committee has warned that PCNs pose an 'existential threat'...

Houses of Parliament

GP partnerships 'like collapsing Jenga stack' after Javid threat to nationalise practices

Sajid Javid's decision to back a report calling for the end of the GMS contract within...

£20 notes spread out

VAT trap for PCNs could strip millions of pounds from general practice

Tens of millions of pounds could be stripped from general practice because work carried...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Is the BMA representing GPs effectively, why GPs face a pension tax hit, and views on the workload crisis

In our regular news review the team discusses representation of GPs, a new survey...

Man sleeping

NICE guidance on insomnia backs app to replace sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people with insomnia could be offered treatment via a mobile...