OFT questions takeover of 22 Merseyside practices

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) could investigate plans to allow a GP-led private company to take over 22 GP practices on Merseyside over fears the move could undermine competition.

Dr Rob Barnett: practices are concerned about takeover
Dr Rob Barnett: practices are concerned about takeover

GPs and patients have until today to have their say on whether the OFT should investigate the plans for SSP Health Ltd, run by a husband and wife pair of Wigan GPs, to operate the Merseyside practices.

The two GPs, Drs Sanjay and Shikha Pitalia, were the 2009 winners of the GP Enterprise Awards for an innovative scheme that used a text message service to cut missed appointments.

But the OFT has launched an ‘invitation to comment’ on the decision to award preferred bidder status to SSP Health by two PCTs, Liverpool PCT and NHS Sefton. The OFT is assessing whether it has jurisdiction to investigate the matter.

Liverpool LMC secretary Dr Rob Barnett said that the 22 practices are worried about the potential takeover but that the LMC has not submitted any evidence to the OFT.

He said: ‘It hasn’t because the criteria on which the OFT will look at something is very narrow so it would be difficult to challenge the decision.

‘You don’t have anyone who is looking at the overall exercise to provide a holistic picture as to what is going on.

‘In some situations neighbouring practices put in bids. Local hospitals put in bids to take over some or all. There was quite a variety.

‘You could have had a decision that practice A went somewhere and B somewhere else.'

In January, GPs demanded thousands of pounds in compensation after the PCTs cancelled a previous tendering process for 17 of the practices. At the time, the PCTs said it was cancelled because the specification for contractors failed to ‘adequately define the minimum standards of patient care’ required.

Spokespeople for the PCTs and SSP Health were unavailable to comment.

* Blog: Car crash of tendering practices concerns OFT

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

The team at Minehead Medical Centre

Somerset GP practice converts to John Lewis-style employee-ownership model

A GP practice in Somerset has become the first in England to operate as a John Lewis-style...

GP consulting room

GPs 'running on empty' as LMC issues third red alert in a month

An LMC has issued its third countywide red alert in four weeks as primary care contends...

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...