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Private provider set for £40 million Darzi windfall

By Gareth Iacobucci

A leading private provider is set to secure up to £40m worth of NHS contracts as part of the Government's controversial APMS rollout in primary care.

Assura has announced that nine of its GP provider companies (GPCos) have won preferred bidder status for contracts under Lord Darzi's Equitable Access scheme.

This includes seven new GP-led health centres, one new under-doctored GP practice, and one urgent care centre.

In a third quarter interim statement, the company said it was confident the contracts would generate ‘sustainable profits' of up to £40 million over five years.

But the company admitted it would inevitably fall behind PCT deadlines to have all centres open by April 2009.

Pulse recently revealed that the company has won contracts in areas such as Coventry, Hartlepool, Stockton, Macclesfield and Somerset.

The announcement follows the company's recent decision to sell of six ‘non-core' properties as part of its divestment strategy, which has seen them concentrate on services aligned to their GP Provider Companies.

Assura said the results ‘clearly demonstrate' the strength of its model, in which the company forms local partnerships with GPs, splitting profits 50:50.

A company statement said: ‘Total contract values in line with PCT forecast activity amounts to over £40m over five years.'

‘Detailed negotiations are underway with a number of PCTs to clarify the final terms of these contracts and we remain focused on ensuring that we can derive sustainable profits.

‘Whilst the intention of all PCTs has been to have these new centres operational by 1 April 2009, it is inevitable that contract negotiations and normal operational issues will lead to a staggered roll out during the remainder of 2009.'

Assura chief executive Richard Burrell said: ‘Assura has made good progress since our capital raising in October 2008. Our Joint Venture GPCos have been appointed preferred bidder on over £40 million of new primary care contracts which are in addition to the existing contracts and services that have already been commissioned.'

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