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Co-ops merge to keep GP control

A group of GP co-operatives has become the first to form a 'community benefit society' to ensure GPs maintain control of out-of-hours care.

Mid Sussex, Sussex, Maidstone and Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Doctors on Call have merged into a trading society limited by guarantee under a Government-backed scheme.

The company, known as On Call Care, has been awarded a £6 million contract by four primary care trusts, and is set to take over legal responsibility for out-of-hours from next month.

Dr Mark Reynolds, a former medical director of Maidstone Doctors and Call and joint medical director of On-Call Care, said the new firm was the 'closest thing to the co-op ethos'.

He said: 'It's the best

chance of producing integration in the local health care

network because [local clinicians] will all have a seat on the board.'

Dr Reynolds said all 400 GPs in the trusts were working shifts, but he expected the figure to drop to 300 when GPs were allowed to opt out.

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