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GPs worry as US software firm wins contract to run out-of-hours

A row has broken out between GPs and NHS managers after an American computer software firm won a deal to take on out-of-hours services.

Clinical Solutions UK Europe was chosen ahead of GP co-operative Cadoc by Cardiff Local health board after a controversial tendering process.

The company has no experience of running out-of-hours services in the UK, although it has provided al- gorithms used by NHS

Direct and runs an out-of-hours service in Tasmania.

It is now seeking GPs to work shifts in order to take over services on September 30.

But Cadoc said it was considering appealing to the Welsh Assembly against the decision, claiming the health board asked it to resubmit its bid only days before it was due to make its decision.

Dr Trevor Thompson, medical director of Cadoc and a GP in Cardiff, said: 'We feel the tender process was contracted to enable the health board to choose the cheaper option without attention to quality, and they altered the process.'

GPs in the area also said they are nervous about Clinical Solutions taking over.

Dr Jeremy Black said: 'We don't know whether they will be able to do the job and have no experience of them so we are somewhat cynical.'

Sian Richards, chief executive of Cardiff local health board, admitted it asked the co-op to recost its bid, but said it was given almost two weeks to do so. She added the Clinical Solutions bid provided for a higher quality of service.

'It was cheaper but we undertook the financial evaluation as a separate phase. I'm absolutely confident that patients will receive a high quality and local service.'

Clinical Solutions said it planned a meeting with GPs to assure them everyone working for the service would be employed locally.

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