His comments came as DoH director of commissioning Mark Britnell said that just over half of the shortlisted bids for the new practices had come from GPs and GP consortia. His figures echoed the findings of a recent GP investigation (GP, 17 October).
Mr Britnell said there had been an 'overwhelming response' from GP-led groups, with over 750 putting in bids in the West Midlands region.
Mr Johnson said: 'The tendering process is a huge opportunity to make sure the health centres are switched on to the local community's needs. We always expected GPs to be the people in pole position to do that.'
Around 40 per cent of the shortlisted bids came from the private sector or social enterprises. The remainder were from NHS foundation trusts.
However, an average of five bidders have been shortlisted for each tender - meaning that 80 per cent of these 'successful' bids will not ultimately win.
Mr Johnson dismissed claims that the tendering process was biased against GPs. 'The first contract to be handed out has gone to a social enterprise - straight after social enterprises were saying the system is rigged against them,' he said.
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