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Foundation trusts get green light to run Darzi centres

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has paved the way for Foundation Trusts to run Lord Darzi's polyclinics, despite serious concerns over conflicts of interest.

It has issued advice to SHAs on how PCTs can avoid conflicts of interest that may arise even if acute trusts running GP services refer to their own hospitals.

The guidance came as a Pulse survey revealed that more than one in ten hospital trusts are involved in bids for GP-led health centres.

In a survey of 38 trusts, five said they were involved in bids. A separate survey showed 25% of PCTs were planning to house polyclinics in an acute setting.

The Department of Health said it was giving the green light to Foundation Trusts bidding for primary care contracts, providing that PCTs approached it for prior agreement.

The DH guidance reads: ‘Commissioners should not contract directly with secondary providers seeking to own, manage or control general medical list based services that would result in referrals to their own secondary provision function, without having agreed robust and proportionate safeguards and with the express agreement of the DH.'

But despite the assurance, Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, warned the moves would be ‘bound to lead to conflicts of interest'.

He said: ‘You'll have a monopoly healthcare provider. I don't believe we should vertically integrate.

‘The price will be the secretary of state dictating exactly what healthcare is available. One of the reasons that GPs remained independent is not just that we're awkward; it's that we were not prepared to be medical civil servants.'

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