Private deal to run GP practice collapses seven years early

A 10-year deal for a private company to run a struggling east London GP practice has been terminated seven years early.

Campaigners at the St Pauls Way Medical Centre protest in 2008 when the contract to run the practice was awarded to Atos Healthcare (Photograph: Wilde Fry)
Campaigners at the St Pauls Way Medical Centre protest in 2008 when the contract to run the practice was awarded to Atos Healthcare (Photograph: Wilde Fry)

Private firm Atos Healthcare won a contract in 2007 to manage St Paul's Way medical centre, which had a history of poor service provision.  But NHS Tower Hamlets said the contract has now been terminated after the practice failed to meet the performance outcomes set by the PCT.

Jane Milligan, Tower Hamlets borough director of NHS East London and The City, said: ‘Regular contract review showed the practice was struggling to deliver the required improvements, particularly around access to appointments.'

A spokeswoman for Atos Healthcare said it mutually agreed with the PCT to terminate the contract with an exit date of 31 March 2011.

Local GP Dr Jonathon Tomlinson said Atos won the contract in 2007 because it had put in the ‘cheapest bid’ with little understanding of the local area. He told GP the deal's collapse showed that, when dealing with ‘challenging, impoverished' patients, local knowledge is ‘vital’.

‘It's essential that people understand the difference between the traditional model of general practice and the newcomers to the primary care scene,' he said.

'Both are private providers, but traditionally GPs have made a personal, long-term commitment to a community and over years develop ways of working that are effective for their patients. They are embedded in the communities in which they work.’

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