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Franchising fears for small practices

Small practices will be under even greater threat if GPs are given the power to set up franchises.

GPs and academics warned PCOs were more likely to see larger practices as 'experts' at certain services than small or singlehanded practices.

Under the franchising proposals, GPs could take over failing practices or develop a brand name for certain services and take on PCO contracts.

Dr Michael Taylor, chair of the Small Practices Association, said: 'Small practices have got to show they are better or inevitably big practices may gobble them up.'

Dr Bernard Dowling, a research fellow at the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, said: 'I would bet my mortgage the practices selected as ''experts'' would be larger and the

underachievers singlehanders.'

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