GP-led private company can take over 22 practices, watchdog rules

A GP led-private company has been given the go-ahead to take over 22 APMS practices in Merseyside by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Dr Shikha Pitalia and Dr Sanjay Pitalia: GP husband and wife team behind SSP Health
Dr Shikha Pitalia and Dr Sanjay Pitalia: GP husband and wife team behind SSP Health

The OFT decided not to launch a full investigation of a takeover by SSP Health, run by a husband and wife pair of Wigan GPs, after it began probing the deal last December.

The OFT found that the takeover did not have a ‘relevant merger situation’ meaning it wouldn’t be investigated further because it didn’t have more than a £70m turnover or a 25% share of the local market.

A SSP health spokeswoman said it was pleased with the OFT’s decision and said that a ‘robust national procurement’ exercise had taken place by the two PCTs - Liverpool PCT and NHS Sefton - which awarded it preferred bidder status.

She said: ‘Our priority now is to ensure appropriate patient access from each existing site.

‘SSP Health is pleased to hear the OFT’s decision. This helps to provide assurance to both staff and patients around continuity of services.

‘Clinical resources need to be optimised for maximum patient contact. Plans for better integration to reduce clinical isolation are being developed. All resources currently used in management and non-clinical areas are being reviewed with a view to creating improved systems.

‘Working in partnership with Liverpool medical school and Mersey Deanery, SSP Health is extending its teaching portfolio into the new practices. One of these will have its first GP registrar placement this month and a number will take medical students.

‘Patient engagement is ongoing and patient participation groups are being established at all surgeries. SSP Health is keen to engage with CCGs and some of our GPs are already on CCG boards and actively involved in commissioning.

‘We are keen to establish networks locally and support initiatives to improve patient services.’

Mid Mersey LMC medical secretary Dr Ivan Camphor said he had ‘no real concerns’ about the take over.

‘They are used to taking practices over like this and they have a good record,' he said.

In February Virgin Care beat 17 bids to take over an APMS practice in Dorset.

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