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A private firm that was controversially chosen to provide out-of-hours services in Car-diff has sold its contract for a 'significant' profit after just five months.

In a deal that has outraged GPs, Clinical Solutions last week struck a deal with Serco, a Leeds-based firm that has been involved in hospital PFI contracts.

GPs accused Clinical Solutions of having provided an 'appalling' service and of profiteering at the expense of

patients.

Board members of Cardiff local health board, which chose the company, were also understood to be furious after having been told nothing of the sale until after it had

happened.

The deal is also thought to have constituted the first sale of goodwill since the Government lifted the ban on the eve of the new GMS contract last year.

Dr Trevor Thompson, former medical director of GP co-op Cadoc, which provided the service before Clinical Solutions, said it was 'disgraceful' that the company had made a profit from the sale despite providing an 'absolutely appalling' service.

'The call-back times for triage were very long,' he said. 'We've had patients who have not been called back at all and complaints are not being answered. It smacks of profiteering, and that's morally indefensible.'

Dr Allan Jones, a GP in Cardiff, said his patients had also reported lengthy waiting times. He added that the nurse-led service had sent inaccurate information back to GPs after treating patients.

Andrew Preston, sole director and shareholder of Clinical Solutions, defended his right to sell up but refuted that the service had deteriorated. He said it had met all of the out-of-hours standards.

Mr Preston said: 'The service that was commissioned is no different to what's operated and we've exceeded or met every performance target.'

Dr Gareth Hayes, medical director of Clinical Solutions and outgoing medical secretary of Cardiff LMC, admitted GPs had expressed 'disappointment and concern' at the sale.

But he said the service was more cost-efficient than the 'overly-doctored' co-op.

Dr Andrew Dearden, GPC Wales chair, said the sale was to be expected after the Government lifted the ban on the sale of goodwill.

By Ian Cameron

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