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PCT managers holding secret polyclinic talks with private firms

By Steve Nowottny

PCT bosses have been holding secret talks with private providers to discuss plans for the UK's first fully-fledged polyclinic, without keeping any official records of what was discussed.

Pulse revealed last month that Camden PCT had held secret talks with Virgin Healthcare in January to discuss plans for the polyclinic at University College London Hospital - and the PCT later confirmed it had held similar meetings with ‘a number of companies'.

But while Virgin Healthcare, which has since said it is ‘not involved' in the plans, took notes of what was discussed, Camden PCT has now admitted its staff kept no records.

The PCT also said it did not even have a record of which other companies it had met with.

A Camden PCT spokesperson, responding to a request for details of the meetings under the Freedom of Information Act, said: ‘The trust does not hold the information you requested.

‘The PCT has informal meetings with potential and current providers, both by telephone, at conferences and meetings. The conversations or meetings had no agendas and no minutes were taken.'

Pressed on why this was, the spokesman added that the meetings often took place at NHS events throughout the country to ‘explore provider options in the newly developing provider landscape'.

The admission adds to evidence that trusts are determined to keep their discussions with emerging private providers away from the public gaze.

In June, the LMCs conference unanimously passed a motion calling for an amended Freedom of Information Act to ensure PCTs and private providers ‘cannot hide behind the claim of commercial confidentiality'.

Dr Paddy Glackin, secretary of Camden and Islington LMC, said local GPs had been completely left out of the polyclinic discussions.

‘The PCT is not being sufficiently transparent,' he said. ‘We would like to see more transparency and inclusiveness. We are keen to be involved, we are keen to be supportive. We're the people who live and work here.'

Polyclinic talks: no records kept of meetings with private firms Polyclinic talks: no records kept of meetings with private firms

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