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GP consortium agrees partnership with private firm to run referral service

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c7470 (Published 04 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c7470
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Concerns have been raised over an early deal signed between one of the new pathfinder GP commissioning consortiums and the private firm UnitedHealth UK.

The referral management deal with UnitedHealth UK has been jointly agreed by the NHS Hounslow primary care trust and the London based Great West Commissioning Consortium.

The trust said that this was an innovative new service to support GPs in their new role as commissioners and to improve the quality of referrals. But the BMA said that it was disappointed at this early partnership between a consortium and the private sector.

NHS Hounslow said that the “referral facilitation service” had been developed with local GPs—with the blessing of all the area’s 57 general practices­—and would handle all referrals, including consultant to consultant referrals, from February 2011. It will act as a first port …

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