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At the heart of general practice since 1960

PCTs ramp up role of private sector

By Gareth Iacobucci

NHS bosses have dramatically ramped up involvement of the private sector in primary care, with companies to gain a growing role in deciding how to spend the health service's cash.

US-giant United Health has signed a deal with North East Lincolnshire PCT, the firm's second to be made under the Framework for Procuring External Support from Commissioners (FESC) – the Government's controversial scheme to involve private companies in commissioning.

Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT has announced a similar agreement with private health firm Tribal.

It said the company, which makes 96% of its profits from public sector contracts, will undertake a range of tasks, including ‘delivering immediate savings through strengthened data assurance and invoice validation'.

Previous agreements under FESC, between United Health and Northamptonshire PCT and Bupa and Hillingdon PCT, have proved controversial, with an audit committee report for Hillingdon warning the scheme might struggle to deliver value for money.

Meanwhile the Government has appointed seven accountancy firms, including giants Ernst and Young, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, to a PCT Board Development Framework in a bid to drive better value from commissioning.

It comes as national director of primary care Professor David Colin Thome is to head up a new national PBC implementation team hold trusts to account over their commissioning performance.

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