Private providers fail on continuity of care

Private provision of GP services is already adversely affecting continuity of care, and the picture is set to worsen, according to a report from Keep our NHS Public.

‘Patchwork Privatisation of Our Health Service’, compiled by the pressure group, also says that practice-based commissioning (PBC) will lead to localised strongholds of private provision.

The report is a dossier of all private involvement in the NHS and says it ‘is happening on such a scale and in so coordinated a way as to make it a unique phenomenon — the “patchwork privatisation” of a major public concern’.

Referring particularly to the impact of private providers on GPs, it highlights continuity of care as the biggest concern: ‘This has certainly been the experience for patients in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.

‘Chilvers McCrea, a private company singled out for praise by the DoH in its January 2006 White Paper, won the contract to run a practice at the Longton Health Centre in October 2004.

‘In its opening three months, the company first had to pay the NHS to supply doctors. It then used temporary doctors, including one from France. Eventually in late 2005 it recruited a German doctor who was unable to drive. Months later, in February 2006, she resigned.’

Dr Rory McRae, chairman of Chilvers McCrea, said that the report was wrong to cite it because Chilvers McRae is actually an NHS organisation. He said that the major cause of care fragmentation was the new contract, not private providers.

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