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GPs facing bias in tenders for PCT contracts

By Gareth Iacobucci

The GPC is gathering what it claims is a damning dossier of ‘hard evidence' of GMS and PMS GPs being left out in the cold in the tendering process for GP practices in under-doctored areas.

Bids for the practices, which are being developed under the Government's Fairness in Primary Care Procurement scheme, are currently under consideration by 10 PCTs.

Although the tendering process allows GMS and PMS GPs in the areas to bid for the contracts, the GPC said the Government was ‘pre-judging' the bidding process by insisting all contracts are tendered with APMS.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said the GPC was col-lecting evidence which con-firmed ‘actual prejudice' against GMS and PMS GPs.

He said: ‘There is an element among SHAs and PCTs that are either acting as they believe or being forced to take a pre-judged viewpoint of APMS or nothing. This is ‘unfairness in primary care procurement.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC vice-chair, said there was great concern over a lack of a level playing field, and said the process favoured ‘large organisations with the big financial muscle behind them'.

He added: ‘In certain areas, practices aren't being given appropriate support.

‘There is also concern that the process is cloaked in secrecy, with no feedback given to local practices who fall at the first hurdle.'

Dr Ravi Mene, secretary of Manchester LMC, where one of the contracts is up for grabs, said the current situa-tion was like ‘David and Goliath', and criticised his local PCT for its lack of support.

He said: ‘The big boys have got a head start on everything. It's not a level playing field for GPs to bid.'

Chris Locke, secretary of Nottingham LMC, said his own PCT had been designed ‘to attract bids from corporate organisations or consortia of practices'.

A Department of Health spokesperson denied the proc-ess was ‘skewed', adding: ‘We have received expressions of interest from a range of experienced healthcare providers including entrepreneurial GPs, social enterprise, third sector and independent sector organisations.'

Karen O'Brien, associate director of primary care commissioning at Manchester Primary Care Trust, said:

'The tendering process has given equal oppor-tunity to all potential providers of primary care services including existing local GPs.'

Dr Richard Vautrey: GPC vice-chair claims huge concern over a lack of a level playing field Dr Richard Vautrey: GPC vice-chair claims huge concern over lack of a level playing field

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