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LMC leaders spearhead GP bids to run Darzi polyclinics

By Gareth Iacobucci

GP leaders are setting aside opposition to APMS and taking the private sector head on in bids to control Lord Darzi's polyclinics.

A Pulse investigation reveals LMCs are heavily involved in the process, with around a fifth putting together their own bids.

Huge disquiet remains among GP leaders over APMS, but LMCs appear to have decided it is better to be ‘on the inside rather than the outside', and to prevent the private sector from having the bidding process all their own way.

Of 27 LMCs contacted by Pulse, six confirmed that executive LMC members were involved in putting bids together for GP-led health centres. Almost all the others had offered assistance with bids to local GPs.

One LMC leader from the Midlands, who wished to remain anonymous, said he planned to go into partnership with the private sector and front its APMS bid.

He said he had been approached by two multi-nationals, adding: ‘It's better to be on the inside rather than the outside. If we've got to have it, it's better to be on board.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC vice-chair and secretary of Leeds LMC, confirmed that members of his LMC were also making bids.

The bidding process has left GP leaders in an awkward position, less than a year after BMA delegates at the annual representatives meeting conference voted to ‘actively oppose' the spread of APMS.

At the LMCs conference, Coventry LMC put forward a motion arguing that APMS, whether delivered by multi-nationals or a consortia of GPs, was the ‘greatest threat to general practice in the 60 years of the NHS'.

But other delegates took a more moderate stance, carrying a motion calling on GPC to equip GP practices to compete effectively for APMS services.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator and vice-chair of Harrow LMC, said bids would be ‘stronger' with LMC input.

He said: ‘It doesn't surprise me that members of LMC executives would bid. The very nature of the process requires high level of political awareness.'

And in an exclusive interview with Pulse this week, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said he would join up and bid with local GPs if it meant stopping a practice ‘going into private hands.'

Dr Peter Wilkinson, a GP in Kempston, Bedford, whose practice successfully won the first contract for a GP-led health centre, said his LMC had provided invaluable support during the tendering process.

‘The LMC were very supportive of a local practice managing this centre. They were supportive of all local bids, not just ours, and have continued to be since then.'

Lord Darzi: GP leaders are fighting the private sector to run new polyclinics Lord Darzi: GP leaders are fighting the private sector to run new polyclinics

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