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At the heart of general practice since 1960

National consortium a non-starter

IntraHealth Limited, based in Peterlee, is apparently proposing to set up its own private commissioning consortium.

Unlike other consortia, this one will not be serving a geographical area – so it's hard to see how it will deal with patients who are not registered with a GP.

It is difficult to see how this idea can work. The 40,000 patients involved are not enough to give financial stability to the operation, and are too few to give it any real bargaining power, especially as the consortium will have to deal with a number of different hospitals.

Why do they want to do this? The obvious explanation is that they think they can make a profit.

We have in front of us the example of Southern Cross to show us the risks of letting commercial operations speculate in the provision of care services.

Creative destruction may drive up standards in commercial markets, but in healthcare it is a recipe for fear and uncertainty.

Dr Brian Fisher, Chair of the Socialist Health Association
Lewisham, south-east London

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