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New-style GP entrepreneurs mop up Darzi centre contracts

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs are dominating the tender process for Lord Darzi's polyclinics and new practices, Pulse can reveal.

But an emerging breed of entrepreneurial GP has sparked a row in the profession, with some bidding for services up to 150 miles from their practices.

In six of the eight areas to complete APMS tenders so far – for GP-led health centres or under-doctored area practices – GPs have won or become preferred bidders.

But some GPs have warned that continuity of care will be lost if non-local practices or consortiums start snapping up contracts.

Pulse has also learned the new centres are set to receive up to twice as much funding per patient as existing surgeries, in a move that threatens to cause severe tensions within the profession.

Dulwich Medical Centre in South London is among the early winners, after being chosen as preferred bidder for a GP-led health centre in Gillingham and a GP practice in Wayfield, both more than 30 miles away in Medway PCT, Kent.

Anil Gupta, business manager and partner of the Dulwich Medical Centre, said: ‘It is about general practice metamorphosing into a new type of structure which can deliver high quality healthcare.'

In Derbyshire County PCT, GP-led company Integral Healthcare Partnership won a bid for a GP-led health centre against local colleagues.

But Dr Gail Walton, a GP in Ilkeston whose joint bid with four other local practices lost out for the centre, said the move could be damaging for local care.

‘The likelihood is they'll be salaried GPs who have no local knowledge, and no allegiance to the town. There's very little continuity of care.'

In data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the PCT revealed that the new GP-led health centre will be paid £121.52 per patient, compared with just £63.24 and £78.63 respectively for GMS and PMS practices.

Dr Walton said: ‘This is also going to be much more heavily funded than we are, which will have an impact. If we have less money, we can employ fewer staff and therefore that acts on our access figures.'

But Dr Peter Wilczynski, a GP in Corby, Northamptonshire, whose local practice has become preferred bidder for a new polyclinic in Corby, described its victory as ‘a good news story for general practice'.

One Medicare has been chosen as preferred bidder for a polyclinic in Derby City PCT, while Fleet Healthcare - a consortium of seven local GP practices - won the race for a polyclinic in West Kent PCT, with backing from private firm Circle.

• Primary Care Tsar Dr David Colin-Thome has revealed there could be a new rollout of Darzi centres if the first wave is successful. Dr Colin-Thome told the Primary Care Live conference: ‘There might be more GP-led health centres if the first ones are a success. It will be up to PCTs to decide that.'

Darzi centres: GPs are dominating the bidding so far but a new breed has emerged Darzi centres: GPs are dominating the bidding so far but a new breed has emerged

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