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Help for GPs to compete on APMS

By Ian Cameron

A PCT that is putting four practices it directly manages out to tender has pledged to help the incumbent GPs compete with major private providers.

Salford PCT has promised that managers will assist salaried GPs in preparing a bid, including giving advice on how how they might be able to collaborate with other practices or providers.

The trust, which plans to set up Chinese Walls to ensure impartiality, has also promised patients' views will be taken into account in deciding criteria to judge the bidders' proposals and in evaluating bids.

It has made the pledges in

order to avoid the accusations of bias that have plagued similar tenders in Sunderland and Derbyshire.

North Eastern Derbyshire PCT faced a judicial review of its decision to award two of its practices to US-based firm UnitedHealth Europe after patients complained their preference for local GPs was not taken into consideration.

Recent Government guidance stated that PCTs do not have to put directly managed practices out to tender.

But Dr Mike Burrows, chief executive of Salford PCT, said the move was the best way to evaluate all models of care, including the private sector and social enterprise. He said he was acutely aware of the furore that occurred in Derbyshire and had deliberately taken a more even-handed approach.

There would be a clear separation between PCT workers managing the tender process and those assisting bidders, he added.

Dr Richards said: 'I want to ensure we secure for patients the best possible primary care and this way I'm optimistic we can explore the complete range of the market.'

Local GPs were heartened at the PCT's approach, but said they would be disappointed if it ultimately failed to choose bids from incumbent GPs.

Dr Ravi Mene, secretary of Salford and Trafford LMC, said: 'The incumbent doctors don't have experience or know how to bid for these practices, but now stand a better chance.

'People running practices will have the upper hand as far as the local community is

concerned.'

Dr Niall Finegan, a GP in Salford, said: 'If [the incumbent GPs] have been working there for a while it would be unfair not to award it to them and

it would destroy all working

relationships.'

GPs at the practices involved did not wish to comment.

icameron@cmpmedica.com

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