GPs win 70% of APMS contracts

GP-led bids are beating conglomerates to PCT contracts to run surgeries.

PCTs are awarding 70 per cent of tendered contracts to run GP services to local practices and GP-led companies rather than to national or multinational conglomerates.

The finding is from a GP investigation of PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act.

It should help allay fears that PCTs do not offer a level playing field and instead skew decisions in favour of firms that drop their rates to enter the primary care market.

That fear was fuelled this month when health secretary Alan Johnson told The Guardian that 'lots' of the government's 100 new 'Darzi' GP practices and 150 GP-led health centres would be run by private companies.

High profile cases of GPs losing out, including GP and government access adviser Dr Sam Everington in Tower Hamlets, East London, have added to GPs' concerns.

But GP's investigation shows that contracts have been awarded to GPs and GP-led companies more than twice as often as to other healthcare providers.

Greenbrook Healthcare in west London beat off 41 other small GP practices and international conglomerates to run six practices in nearby Hounslow. Greenbrook is run by six GPs at the Brook Green Medical Centre in Hammersmith.

'While it can be done by people who have two jobs, it's easier if you have employees to prepare the bid for you,' said Greenbrook chief executive Michael Steel.

In Cheshire, SSP Health, a GP partnership, led by husband-and-wife team Dr Sanjay and Dr Shikha Pitalia, beat nine contenders to provide services in Halton and St Helens PCT. A spokesman said GPs could offer staff better conditions, particularly NHS pensions, than private providers.

Deputy GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'GPs have a track record of delivering high standards of care through their existing arrangements, and this will be visible to PCTs.'

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