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Bumpy start for private firms advising the NHS

Plans to use private firms to take over some PCT commissioning functions have got off to a bumpy start.

Plans to use private firms to take over some PCT commissioning functions have got off to a bumpy start.

The Department of Health intervened at the last minute to review a deal that Hillingdon PCT had struck with BUPA to start providing advice from 5 November on its secondary care contracts. Hillingdon is the first PCT to use FESC, a national framework negotiated by the department to allow 14 preapproved firms (see below) to supply commissioning expertise to NHS organisations.

The minutes of the PCT's 31 October board meeting state that ‘several board members expressed displeasure that the department decided at this late stage to review the contract'.

A PCT spokesperson said the DH was helping the PCT to ‘ensure it reaches a commercial agreement that achieves best possible value for money and is affordable'. The spokesperson added that the contract review would be completed ‘shortly'.

While it awaits approval,the PCT has been forced to put in place a three-month bridging contract with BUPA.BUPA could be paid up to £3.8m over three years in return for advice it is hoped will save the PCT £6.2m.

Meanwhile, US professor Donald Light told the NHS Alliance conference last month that there was a conflict between NHS and corporate agendas – firms were expected to maximise profits whereas the NHS was a public service.

THE APPROVED FESC FIRMS

• Aetna Health Services (UK)
• Axa PPP Healthcare Administration Services
• BUPA Membership Commissioning
• CHKS,trading as Partners in Commissioning
• Dr Foster,trading as Dr Foster Intelligence
• Health Dialog Services
• Humana Europe
• KPMG
• McKesson Information Solutions UK
• McKinsey & Company,UK
• Navigant Consulting
• Tribal Consulting
• UnitedHealth Europe
• WG Consulting Healthcare, trading as WG Consulting.

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