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APMS contracts 'will improve GP access and quality'

The drive to introduce private competition into general practice by use of APMS contracts can improve access and produce services catered to local health needs, the National Audit Office report concludes.

It praises the ‘entrepreneurial culture' developing as a result of APMS contracts, and says competitive tendering processes will allow PCTs to drive up quality and value for money.

The backing comes despite the recent controversy surrounding APMS, with concerns that some companies are under-cutting GPs to win bids, as well as wider doubts over the involvement of private firms in the NHS.

The NAO report urged PCTs to make greater use of APMS, after finding only 39 APMS contracts had so far been issued, with almost 80% of PCTs having not used them at all. ‘Competitive tendering gives the PCT the opportunity to demonstrate value for money and tightly manage contracts around their own specifications and service standards,' the authors said.

‘There are several examples which exist where APMS has been used to improve the provision of general practice'.

The BMA has repeatedly voiced its concern over the spread of APMS and the tendering processes, which it says are ‘bureaucratic' and ‘stacked against ordinary practices'.

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