GPs challenge London PCTs as practice contracts go to private companies

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 21 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:412
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Two groups of GPs have written to two primary care trusts (PCTs) in London expressing concern about the potential effect on the quality of care after a second contract to run a general practice has been awarded to a private company rather than to local GPs.

Camden Primary Care Trust announced in late January that it had awarded the tender to run three GP surgeries—King’s Cross Road Practice, Camden Road Practice, and Brunswick Medical Centre—to UnitedHealth Primary Care (BMJ 2008;336:295, 9 Feb doi: 10.1136/bmj.39481.889155.C2).

Four local GPs who bid for Brunswick Medical Centre, which they had been managing successfully for the previous six months, have written to Camden PCT expressing their concern that “patient care will suffer.” They believe that the decision was based “purely on cost, as opposed to quality.”

Previously, another London PCT, Tower Hamlets, awarded a tender to run St Paul’s Way Medical Centre to Atos Origin, an international information technology services company. Again, local GPs who had bid to run the practice were unsuccessful.

Tower Hamlets Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents practices in the area, wrote to the PCT outlining its “loss of confidence in the PCT’s commitment to providing good quality primary care.” It said, “The LMC is concerned that factors such as continuity of care and the doctor-patient relationship will ultimately have to be sidelined in order to meet the financial targets put forward by Atos Origin.”

The GPs bidding for the Brunswick Centre practice said that their bid had initially been approved by Camden PCT as “affordable” and was judged to be of higher quality in some areas than the bid from UnitedHealth. Camden PCT scored the group of GPs higher than UnitedHealth in clinical areas, with 468/550 points (85%) for core services and 37/50 points (74%) for clinical governance. UnitedHealth …

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