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GP group take over £6.4m out-of-hours contract from private company

GPs told by the health secretary to ‘be brave’ in their bid to take back responsibility for out of hours in east London have won the £6.4m contract, unseating the private company currently running the service.

City and Hackney CCG announced today that they have awarded the four-year contract to the group of local GPs after a nine-month tendering process. The decision means that private company Harmoni will no longer run the service.

In January, Harmoni’s contract was extended and the PCT board decided that GPs in the area should not be allowed to take control of out-of-hours services, despite a two-year planning process that signed up four in five GPs in the area. The PCT cluster said that due to competition laws it could not allow the GPs to run the service.

In April, health secretary Jeremy Hunt gave his backing to the GPs, telling them to ‘be brave’ and try to overturn the PCT’s January decision.

Today the City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise (CHUHSE), run by a group of local GPs won the contract.

Dr Clare Highton, chair of NHS City and Hackney CCG who was not involved in the decision, said: ‘I am really delighted that the CHUHSE bid has been successful and I look forward to working with them to develop an excellent out-of-hours service.’ 

Dr Deborah Colvin, who led the campaign to win back out of hours care, said: ‘It’s about local GPs being involved, people who understand that area and know the other GPs in that area and actually get to know the basic patients in that area.’

She added:  ‘I think it shouldn’t have taken this long. If they’d just said “yes you can do it” when we had asked then it would have saved everyone a lot of time and money and anguish. I feel very angry about it.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • This illustrates the millions, billions? of pounds which are being lost to the NHS through compulsory tendering, so called 'transaction costs'. In the USA 40 cents in the dollar spent on health is used on administration. As the Health & Social Care Act unfolds we are heading ever nearer to this level

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  • I couldn't agree more - transaction (ie. admin) costs in the NHS have soared from 6 per cent before the forced imposition of the market to 12 per cent three years ago. Some academics estimate it now costs a wacking 20 per cent of the NHS budget (i.e. £20bn) to administer the market. That is exactly the same as the size of the cuts presently being carried out to the NHS by 2014 next year. Did everybody know that the private consultancy firm McKinsey, along with helping to draw up the Health & Social Care Act, also played a part in drawing up the so called Nicolson challenge (the £20bn cuts)? These cuts and the huge cost of the market put huge pressure on NHS services - which then enables the private companies' highly paid spin doctors and "think tanks" to prime the wiling media with horror stories about the decline in health services, and NHS workers' failure to care! The whole process is corrupt and rotten to the core. Thank goodness the City & Hackney CCG stood up for their principles and awarded the tender to CHUHSE as opposed to the underfunded, understaffed, Private Equity company ripped off Harmoni (or any of its equivalents).

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  • Dr Deborah Colvin, who led the campaign to win back out of hours care, said: ‘It’s about local GPs being involved, people who understand that area and know the other GPs in that area and actually get to know the basic patients in that area.’

    Fantastic for patients in that part of London however strategically not tendering for it may have been better long term. The Cons do not want the privatization of the NHS nor the oncoming winter crisis to be an election issue.

    The outcome is what Hunt and Cameron would have wanted. They do want to dismantle the health service longer term for their Eton, Oxbridge and City friends otherwise why the HSCA when no top down re-organization was promised by Cameron at the last election?

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