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Independents' Day

PCTs speed up GP practice disposals

PCTs are accelerating moves to invite private providers to run NHS services by putting more practices they directly manage out to tender.

More than a dozen practices in Kent, Essex, Staffordshire, Liverpool and Warwickshire have been advertised recently.

The surge in activity comes in the wake of a Department of Health meeting with managers from the 20 most underdoctored PCTs. Trusts were told to speed up disposal of practices and focus on commissioning rather than providing services.

But GPs have criticised the process as unnecessary.

Dr Paul Golik, chair of North Staffordshire LMC, said six PCTMS practices were being put out to tender in Stoke-on-Trent. GPs in five of them wanted to take their practices but feared they would lose to companies that had more money to spend on 'glossy brochures'.

He said: 'While PCTs are in favour of the GPs taking over, they have to be seen to be fair.'

Dr Andrew Kennedy, Warwickshire LMC secretary, said a decision by North Warwickshire PCT to tender for three PCTMS practices was 'stupid'.

He said: 'We believe the population of North Warwickshire will be best served by those practices or mergers with others.'

Dr Brian Balmer, Essex LMC chair, said the legal challenge to the award of an APMS contract in Derbyshire had dented the chances of incumbent GPs in his area taking practices on.

He said: 'A couple of PCTMS practices were going to be offered to the clinicians who were there, then they said because of Derbyshire they had to consult.'

Dr Vinnie Dunne, a salaried GP in a practice managed by Maidstone Weald PCT, said he and two GP colleagues had been told to submit a business case in order to take over their practice in Staplehurst.

He said: 'We would rather just take it over. We think we have a good chance but why go through this pain?'

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