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GPs call on Goverment to halt APMS drive

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs launched a fierce attack on the Government's APMS tendering process for being biased against practices and allowing private firms to ‘hide behind commercial confidentiality'

LMC representatives at the conference unanimously condemned the Government for its ‘creeping privatisation' of primary care, and called for the APMS drive to be halted.

GPs unanimously backed a series of motions criticising use of private providers, one of which was proposed by Dr Kambiz Boomla, who lost out to Atos Healthcare in bidding for a practice in East London.

Delegates backed calls for quality to be placed above cost when assessing bidders, and demanded private firms winning tenders should not be allowed to seek variations of their terms once contracts were signed.

GPs also backed a sub-section of the motion calling for an amendment to the Freedom of Information act, to force PCTs and APMS providers to release information about the bidding process.

LMCs called on the GPC to develop a ‘credible strategy' to counteract the Government's desire to privatise delivery of care and ‘equip GPs to compete effectively' on APMS bids.

Dr Gavin Ralstan, a GP in Birminghan and a member of Birmingham LMC, described the bidding process as ‘torture', and ‘a step too far for most of us'.

He said: ‘We need the GPC to continue the campaign and equip practices to ensure equitable access to expertise to take contracts.'

Dr Ralstan said that mergers and Limited Liability Partnerships offered a ‘glimmer of hope' for GPs, and that they might have to accept that ‘our corporate structure' may be preferable to being controlled by corporate giants.

Dr Boomla said: ‘Dr Buckman's predecessor Dr Chisholm argued that practices would have nothing to fear from the private sector. This has not been the case.

‘Tomorrow, it will be winner takes all. If we continue down this route, we and our patients are tumbling down a slippery slope'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator and chair of the debate, accused the Government of misleading patients by comparing independent contractor general practice with corporate privatisation.

He said: ‘This is semantic nonsense. We need to dispel the myth about GPs being private. This is a world away from companies where success depends on your share price. We want to expose the Government's true agenda of wooing the commercial sector'.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: BMA wants to expose true Government agenda Dr Chaand Nagpaul: BMA wants to expose true Government agenda

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