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Independents' Day

Government push means many trusts will use private firms next year

Most PCTs set to adopt APMS by end of 2007


By Helen Crump

Almost 60 per cent of PCTs in England could have brought in private firms to offer GP services by the end of next year, a Pulse survey reveals.

A total of 29 per cent of trusts have either already tendered for Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) contracts or are in the process of doing so.

A further 11 per cent have plans to tender next year and 21 per cent are considering it.

Of those trusts to have already signed APMS contracts, more than three-quarters have brought in private providers rather than use existing GPs.

The figures, from a survey of 51 post-reconfiguration PCTs, show the Government's push for more trusts to adopt APMS is having an effect.

A similar survey by Pulse earlier this year (News, 8 June) found 10 per cent of PCTs had signed APMS contracts, 10 per cent were tendering and a further 12 per cent planned to do so by the end of 2006.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said there was no need in the majority of cases for PCTs to use the APMS contract rather than GMS or PMS.

He also criticised trusts for putting practices out to tender when incumbent GPs wanted to take them on. 'Individual GPs will put a lot of effort into turning a practice around,' he said. 'It's unfortunate when GPs find themselves in a situation where they have demonstrably provided good care but the PCT is not prepared to reward them.'

Kent LMC is trying to

persuade local PCTs to consider GMS providers as well as APMS for practices they are putting out to tender.

Dr Gary Calver, Kent LMC

secretary, said GPs who were running PCT-managed practices well should be given a chance to take them on.

He said: 'For the inner city APMS may be a good option, but for more rural parts of Kent people appreciate the GMS model and want it to continue.'

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, did not

believe private provision would spread so far.

He said: 'Some PCTs will say privately that having been given so many tick-boxes by the strategic health authority and the Department of Health, it's one of the ones they're not


Dr Vautrey said the GPC would continue to strive for a level playing field and to lobby to tighten contracts for salaried GPs working in APMS settings.

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