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Polyclinic rollout means it's 'survival of the fittest' for practices

By Gareth Iacobucci

An out of hours company bidding to run more than a third of the polyclinics being rolled out across the country under Lord Darzi's plans has called for a major consolidation of GPs contracts, describing the process as survival of the fittest.

Harmoni, which already runs out of hours services for 15 PCTs, has revealed it is bidding for 56 of the centres being put out to tender in every PCT.

Managing director of the company, Eddie Jahn, predicted that smaller providers would be ‘increasingly unable to cope' with the regulatory and reporting demands being made by PCTs.

‘The smaller providers are having to enter into joint ventures to win bigger contracts so to be fair the consolidation process – survival process if you like – is already under way,' he said.

Other companies this week revealed as launching bids to run the polyclinics include Care UK, which said it had submitted formal expressions of interest in ‘several' centres as well as Circle Health, which is providing back office, financial, and IT support to GP bidders.

GPC leaders have warned the rollout will lead to a huge structural change in primary care, with Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley predicting it will lead to PCTs having contracts with single providers employing mass ranks of salaried GPs.

Companies including Serco, UnitedHealth and Assura are also planning to bid for dozens of the centres, employing GPs on a salaried basis or recruiting GPs in profit-sharing partnerships.

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