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New rules make practice-based commissioning 'unworkable'

Private firms are already taking advantage of the Freedom of Information Act to find out GP quality framework scores.

At least five PCTs in England have been targeted by firms asking for the information, with one trust confirming it would provide the data.

The requests, just days after the Freedom of Information Act came into force, will renew GPs' fears that private firms plan to target poorer performing practices for possible takeover. Ministers have given companies the go-ahead to strike deals with PCTs to take on practices using APMS contracts.

The PCTs have referred the requests to the Prescription Pricing Authority because they also demand details on GPs' prescribing patterns. The PPA has only advised the trusts not to release the prescribing information.

A spokesman for Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale PCT confirmed it had been asked for GPs' quality scores but refused to name the company involved. He said the trust would 'undoubtedly' release the data.

Essex GP Dr Rory McCrea, director of health care consultancy Chilvers McCrea, which has taken over surgeries with recruitment problems, said his firm had not yet approached PCTs for quality scores but could do so.

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