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'Caretaker' hospital trust wins 15-year contract for former struggling GP group practice

A hopspital trust has won a 15-year contract to run three GP practices, having initially stepped in as their 'caretaker' manager last year.

Royal Primary Care, an arm of the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, will be providing GP and primary care services to more than 30,000 patients from the three sites, having come out on top in a competitive tendering process launched in March.

It was first appointed as caretaker of the three surgeries in May last year when Holywell Group Practice, which had suffered long-running recruitment woes, was faced with the sudden departure of several GPs.

The new APMS contract will run for 15 years starting from October 'with potential to extend it for a further three'.

Chesterfield Royal medical director Dr Gail Collins said that since RPC was appointed as caretaker it has improved care by recruiting five more GPs, delivering extended hours services, and set up an ultrasound clinic.

She said: 'We are pleased to be able to sustain these services for local people at a time when fewer doctors are choosing to train in primary care medicine and go into partnerships.'

And the trust added this may not be its last takeover of local GP services, having entered into a partnership with the 11,500-patient, two-practice Blue Dykes Surgeries Group last month, with a view to potentially bid for that contract in six months' time.

North Derbyshire CCG chief officer Steve Allinson said said he was 'confident' the trust would 'continue to improve primary care', adding: 'Overall we were looking to award a contract that will give local people high-quality, safe services to meet their needs.'

It comes as Pulse has reported on growing numbers of GPs becoming employed by hospital trusts across England as GP partnerships struggle with defunding and unsustainable workloads.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Azeem Majeed

    Do you know what the per capita funding for this APMS contract is and how the funding compares to that of other local PMS / GMS practices?

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  • There is never any transparency on exactly how much more it costs to deliver the contracts. I tried an FOI to NHSE and got back this response.

    "However, we consider that this information is exempt under Section 43 of the FOI Act (FOIA), which exempts from the general duty to release information which would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any entity, including the public authority holding the information.

    Section 43 is a qualified exemption and, as such, we are required to assess the public interest in withholding this information against that of its release. We recognise a general public interest in public (particularly health) sector spending. Further, NHS England is committed to openness and transparency, and seeks to release information wherever possible.

    However, we also take into account the fact that this information is commercially sensitive as APMS contract terms are for a year only and paid at a caretaker premium to ensure continuation of patient services whilst a formal permanent procurement process is undertaken. This is a local contract and commercial terms will vary depending on circumstances. The terms of the contract are commercially sensitive as this type of contract is awarded based on competition of price and quality.

    Therefore, we consider that releasing this information would not be in the public interest, as disclosing the commercial terms of this contract in advance of the full competitive procurement could encourage providers/suppliers to raise their prices for any bid they may make for the permanent APMS contract, thus it could be seen as though NHS England is disclosing its annual budget for the service in advance of procurement.

    This is not in the public interest as it would negatively impact on NHS England’s ability to secure value for money, potentially leading to an aborted procurement as all bids being out with national policy which is seeking equity of funding for all contract types. This scenario would not be good for patients as no permanent solution would be secured and another more costly caretaking period or at worse no medical provision in the locality.

    As such, we consider that the public interest in withholding this information outweighs the general public interest in health sector spend."

    I have to display my earnings on my website. Why can NHSE hide behind Section 43?

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Indeed: this is exactl what happened when some academics tried to work out the costs of some WiCs per patient. It was "commercially sensitive". However, using the FOI where I worked (Southampton) I was able to work out that in its first year the practice associated with one of the WiCs was being paid c £1000 per patient per year. The last time I enquired, which was about 4 years ago, it was still c £240 per patient per year.
    THe defence offered by one of the PCT/CCG bods then was that such practices were "different"- i.e. Open longer hours.
    It was one of many little straws which broke this camel's back, and got me out of the NHS salt-mine. In a way, I guess I should be glad.

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  • Pay anyone well above the market rate of GMS/PMS and we could all make a failing practice thrive.

    Money paid above the GMS/PMS rate for APMS contracts should be banned as it distorts the marketplace and patients at all other practices are disadvantaged by inequitable funding that could be used for their care.

    One rate for all practices - and if APMS shows there is need for more funding - we should all be paid the same higher rates.

    Any 'extra' services or hours opened paid via appropriate LES - open to all also.

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  • All these guys get 2 to 5X per patient year compared to GPs. We should resign, all of us.

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