GPs' court battle over PCT contract

PCTs could be forced to be more transparent over how they award contracts after an out-of-hours provider began a legal challenge over a deal it lost.

GP co-operative Mastercall has provided award-winning out-of-hours services in Manchester since 1996. But NHS Manchester has declined to renew its contract, awarding it to a joint venture between Go To Doc and Harmoni.

The PCT has refused to explain its decision fully. 'It won't answer any questions at all,' said Mastercall chairman Dr David Bostock. 'It told us we did best in the financial category, but wouldn't say if that meant we were cheapest.'

Now Mastercall has appointed law firm Pannone to push for a judicial review to force the trust to explain its choice, and possibly to rethink its decision.

Pannone's Alex Magaw said the PCT's refusal to release the bids' scores could be due to 'disorganisation rather than intent'. 'But it gives credence to the idea there is something not quite right,' he added.

A spokesman for NHS Manchester said the PCT chose the provider 'that we considered best value for money'.

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