GPs in the West Midlands have reacted angrily to a PCT’s decision to exclude the LMC from the selection process for tenders for two practices.
The Brownhills and Willenhall surgeries were put out to tender by Walsall PCT which received 18 bids from a range of suppliers including local GPs, consortia and private companies, but the LMC was not invited to sit on an adjudication panel.
LMC secretary Dr Haris Syed said ‘most GPs were not happy about what had happened’ and he was working to ensure it did not happen again.
‘In the past we were involved in the interviewing process, but this time we were told there was a conflict of interest because local GPs were bidding for contracts,’ he said. ‘We had 23 LMC members at the time so quite a few would not have a conflict of interest.
‘We have accepted that this bid has gone too far now for us to be involved, but we want to make sure there is a half way point so we can be included in future bids. But work on that is ongoing.’
Paul Jennings, chief executive of Walsall PCT, attended an LMC meeting on the issue and said that because there was a conflict of interest for the LMC, a GP from the PCT’s professional executive committee had been present instead.
He also explained that although the PCT would normally have the LMC present when employing a GP, it would be unusual to do so when deciding on tenders for a practice.
‘This was a contractual interview rather than a job offer,’ he said. ‘We treated it the same way we would another contract.
‘In the past the LMC could sit on a panel where an individual was interviewed, but not a company.’
He explained that the conflict of interest that could arise was because among the 18 initial bids for the tender, some GPs had bid twice under different guises.
He said that none of the five shortlisted bids to take over the surgery were from private firms.
GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said that LMCs should make sure they are involved with PCT practice tenders.
‘I’m not sure this is a legal requirement for PCTs,’ he said. ‘But I feel that LMCs should be involved as much as possible.’