GP firm wins controversial tender

The GP-owned firm ChilversMcCrea Healthcare has won a hotly disputed contract to run primary care services in Derbyshire.

In December 2005, the European arm of UnitedHealth, a £16 billion corporation, was awarded a contract to run the Cresswell Primary Care Centre by North Eastern Derbyshire PCT, but the contract was overturned last August following a High Court appeal.

Local councillor and patient Pam Smith took the PCT to court, claiming there had been no consultation on its decision to award the contract to United.

The PCT, now Derbyshire County, held a new consultation including two local meetings and a broad appeal for input from the community.

David Sharp, director of commissioning and informatics at Derbyshire County PCT, said that it had strictly adhered to guidance from the High Court and Court of Appeal in the second round of tendering.

‘The useful comments and suggestions of local people helped us to shape our selection criteria,’ he said.

‘One of the suggestions led to three patient and public representatives, two of which were patients from the practice, sitting on the short-listing and interview panels and they were equal partners in agreeing the preferred provider.’

For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the PCT will not release the names of the other applicants, but GP understands that the bidders included several local GPs including those currently working at the practice. However, it is thought that UnitedHealth did not bid for the contract in the second round of tendering, although a spokeswoman said that the company did not reveal what it had tendered for.

Campaigner Ms Smith was not happy with the PCT’s decision. However, she said that she hoped the company would meet local people to address concerns.

Dr Rory McRae, chairman of ChilversMcCrea, said that he would welcome a meeting with local residents and stakeholders.

He added that it had put in an initial bid for the contract first time round, but withdrew because of restructuring within the company, but felt better placed to take it on now.

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