Letter of the week: Small and large GP groups must compete on a level playing field
The recent story in Pulse about the controversy that has arisen regarding Dr Clare Gerada's Hurley Group winning a contract to run an urgent care centre in Greenwich was brought to my attention to seek answers and solutions.
As both an RCGP national council representative and a long-standing member of the South London RCGP faculty board, this issue was not about picking sides – both parties have involvement on our faculty board. Instead, it was about how to facilitate and tackle the bigger picture. Local Greenwich and Bexley GPs seek to appeal the tender decision with support from their local LMC. Fair enough – yet was this a case of lacking commercial expertise in putting together a professional business tender, or did the Hurley Group have a better, more efficient, proposal? Is the perception that smaller GP federations do not stand a chance when competing against larger corporations, such as Assura or Sainsbury's? Or was this simply a case of winning it fair and square?
Perhaps this wider issue could be explored by the BMA. Could the BMA offer support to smaller practices in the bidding and commissioning process? Should the Government be exploring and ensuring against risk of the emergence of local monopolies? Are we paving the way for replacement of local GP partnerships with a new model for general practice?
Let us ensure both small and large organisations compete equally with the same amount of resources to ensure a level playing field, and that we keep our eye firmly on the patient, who must benefit the most.
From Dr Una Coales
RCGP Council member, GP in Stockwell, south London