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DH reviews 'bonkers' rules enforcing competition when commissioning community services

Exclusive The Department of Health is reviewing its policy of putting community and mental health services out to tender under any qualified provider (AQP) after primary care groups raised concerns that it was being ‘foisted' upon GPs.  

Pulse has learnt that the NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care are engaged in discussions with DH to look at how the policy is being rolled out, amid concerns it is being bureaucratically imposed upon clinical commissioning groups and could hinder their freedom to commission.

It comes as PCT clusters finalise details of the three services they will put out to tender under AQP ahead of the DH's 31 October deadline.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said it was necessary to review the policy to try and address ‘a lot of negative feeling about AQP at the moment'.

Dr Dixon said: ‘AQP mustn't be imposed, I think some people feel it's been foisted on them. The DH is having a look at this. What's going on at the moment is discussions about how we can make AQP useful for CCGs. If it's thought of negatively by commissioners and GPs then it's in the wrong place and we need to look again at how it can be better used.'

The NHS Alliance was particularly concerned about AQP being ‘imposed with the three areas', he added. ‘It is completely bonkers. If it's any use then CCGs would be using it for more than that, and if it's not, we shouldn't be telling them they've got to.'

A DH spokesperson said: ‘We have been and will continue to engage a wide range of clinical and healthcare professionals, including primary care representatives, on plans for the phased implementation of any qualified provider.'

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