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CAMHS won't see you now

Controversial APMS tender halted after bidder pulls out

By Gareth Iacobucci

An APMS tender at the centre of a storm of protest from GPs and patients has been set back by months after the preferred bidder pulled out.

Manchester PCT will now re-tender two contracts for GP practices under Lord Darzi's equitable access scheme following the last-minute pullout.

One of the tenders is for a practice in Levenshulme – where GPs and patient groups have staged vociferous anti-privatisation protests against the rollout.

The PCT is refusing to reveal the identity of the bidder, but GPs believe it may have been a private provider, and are hailing the pullout as a victory for their campaign.

Pulse last week reported on similar protests in Lewisham, south-east London, where GPs joined forces with patients to rail against plans to put a GP-led health centre in the same building as four existing practices.

In Manchester, both the Levenshulme practice and a separate development at Longsight are now expected to open in December 2009, months behind the original timescale.

Dr Kailash Chand, a GPC member and a GP in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire – who spoke at a public meeting against the plans in November – said the pullout vindicated the protests, even if they may not have been the sole reason for the withdrawal.

He said: ‘If you really work hard, these things can happen. It could also be the economic climate. You can't make a quick buck any more.'

Dr Peter Fink, secretary of Manchester LMC, said the ‘massive furore' from local pressure groups and GPs would have been noted by bidders. ‘That could have had an impact,' he said.

A spokesperson for NHS Manchester refused to confirm which bidder had pulled out, but said: ‘Discussions are under way about the next steps.'

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