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GPs launch action against 'predatory pricing' by foundation trust

A group of GP practices has filed a complaint to the NHS Cooperation and Competition Panel accusing local trusts of anti-competitive behaviour and ‘predatory pricing'.

Assura East Riding LLP, a group of 13 practices comprising one of private firm Assura Medical's 25 GP provider companies, has claimed the local PCT – NHS North Yorkshire and York - and York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have unfairly blocked the group from providing local services.

The GPs are appealing against the PCT's conduct when awarding a contract to provide orthopaedic, musculoskeletal and triage services to the foundation trust – and say the trust's pricing was deliberately too low to undercut their bid.

The group said in its submission that costings from Assura Medical's other GP companies suggested the foundation trust was intending to run the service at a loss: ‘Given its experience of providing to a very similar specification elsewhere, the LLP believes the price submitted does not truly reflect the costs.'

‘The LLP believes the foundation trust has deliberately and willingly undervalued the cost. It is our belief this conduct satisfies the panel's definition of predatory pricing.'

The submission accused the PCT of failing to apply the evaluation criteria set out in the tender, and ‘acting contrary to the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination'.

The NHS Cooperation and Competition Panel said it would assess the issue to determine whether the conduct of the trusts was ‘likely to give rise to an adverse effect on patients or taxpayers'.

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