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DoH will help PCTs on private services

Every PCT will get Department of Health support to bring in private firms to set up services in under-doctored areas.

The White Paper states it is an 'urgent priority' for PCTs to 'actively commission' extra services to increase capacity.

A set of principles to guide PCTs states that new providers must offer longer opening hours, open lists and have a 'broadly defined, if any' practice boundary.

A series of procurement waves, following a pilot set up last year which involved six PCTs using Alternative Provider Medical Services contracts, will ensure services are commissioned.

Dr Mike Dixon, NHS Alliance chair, said the prospect of more private companies was not inherently threatening, providing GPs were able to compete fairly to run services.

He said: 'When UnitedHealth and Virgin take general practice into cities, it must be a level playing field and just a solution for inner cities.

'We need limits. Where it works well, fine. But for it to take over wholesale is wrong.'

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