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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP leaders say private firms threat has been reduced

By Gareth Iacobucci

A meeting of GP leaders was told practices were ‘out of the eye of the storm' when it comes to the threat posed by the rise of private providers.

The gathering of LMC secretaries in London received a bullish assessment by the GPC, which has been campaigning to halt the rise of private firms.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said the private sector was realising the lack of profit to be made in general practice.

He said: ‘Given who's tried and pulled out, it vindicates our view that general practice is not as easy as you think and there aren't the big profits to be made. That must send very big warning signals.'

Dr Gurmit Mahay, medical secretary of Wolverhampton LMC, said: ‘I believe the eye of the storm has passed for GPs. Some major players are fast losing interest.'

A Government insider admitted to Pulse that the withdrawal of Virgin Healthcare was a blow to plans to bring in more competition for GPs.

But he said ministers remained confident firms would still be attracted by ring-fenced funds available in primary care.

But the GPC's case has been boosted by the success of GP-led bidders at winning the vast majority of contracts for Lord Darzi's polyclinics. In the latest development, West Sussex PCT this week announced GP-led group Health4Crawley was its preferred provider.

Mid Essex PCT has announced it plans to locate its GP led health centre in a branch of supermarket giant Sainsbury's, although the supermarket will not be the provider.

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