GP fury over practice out to tender
By Ian Cameron
GPs in the North-East are embroiled in a furious row over a PCT's decision to put one of its directly-managed practices out to tender.
Sunderland Teaching PCT is to seek bidders to run the Encompass practice in Washington, despite the incumbent salaried GPs asking to take it over almost a year ago.
Trusts around the country are trying to divest themselves of their PCTMS practices, with many turning to practice providers to manage them .
Yet Dr Ashley Liston and Dr Tracey Lucas had been under the impression they would be allowed to take their practice on.
The two GPs have turned the practice around in the past two years, taking on training status and scoring 1,047 quality points.
But the PCT has said Department of Health guidance on alternative provider medical services (APMS) contracts leaves it with no option but to run a competitive tender.
Sunderland LMC has warned the move will jeopardise recruitment to the region and leave the two salaried GPs who made the practice an attractive proposition for potential bidders out of a job.
BMA lawyers have also advised the LMC there is no legal requirement for the trust to advertise the practice.
In a strongly-worded submission to the trust, Sunderland LMC accused managers of selectively quoting and misquoting from key documents and legislation to support its move.
It also argued there had been inadequate patient consultation – because the PCT believ-
ed their views would be 'biased'.
The submission from Dr Roger Ford, secretary of the LMC, said: 'The chair and board stand alone on this issue and need to confirm the confidence of the public and profession.'
In an editorial in the BJGP, Dr Liston, who is preparing a formal bid to take over the practice, said the PCT risked jeopardising the high-quality care currently provided.
He said: 'If a for-profit organisation were to take on this practice it would inevitably result in the loss of the GPs and most of the staff.'
A spokeswoman for Sunderland Teaching PCT said it made its decision to advertise the practice after considering its specialist legal advice.