GPs must get a fair chance
The Government sold its plans for private providers in primary care as a shiny new way of getting doctors to those areas conventional recruitment of GPs had struggled to reach. But Pulse's survey this week suggests PCTs have no intention of merely sticking with that original blueprint. Many want to go further.
A quarter of PCTs are either in the process of introducing new alternative provider contracts or plan to do so by the end of the year. Yet only a tiny minority of these pioneers feature on the Government's hit list of those most in need of new doctors.
Few GPs would deny that action was needed to address the inequalities in primary care provision. But the advance towards APMS seems to be happening much faster than originally envisaged, and in the leafy suburbs as well as the struggling inner-cities.
It will all have profound consequences for the NHS staff and patients alike. Yet it appears to be happening by stealth, with none of the openness that would at least give GPs a chance of competing effectively.
The Government as the King's Fund demanded this week must come clean about the full scope of its plans to create an internal market in the NHS, and prepare GPs for a fundamental ideological shift. And there must be a level playing field.
There must be an urgent end to the presumption that private automatically is best. GPs need to be given a genuine opportunity to demonstrate they are the best people to run primary care services.