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By Ian Cameron

Two companies that have won contracts to run commuter walk-in centres have revealed they intend to use the deals as a springboard to take on more primary care services.

Atos Origin and General Medical Clinics beat off 60 other bids to run GP-led NHS walk-in centres in Manchester Piccadilly and London Liverpool Street stations respectively.

Both told Pulse that having got a foothold in the NHS, they intended to bid for a raft of Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) contracts for more traditional GP services.

The two companies said they had been formulating plans for the last 18 months aimed at picking up millions of pounds worth of NHS business.

Jerry Appleyard, managing director of General Medical Clinics, which runs four private GP centres in London, said its £8 million, five-year walk-in centre contract was a 'great platform' to bid for other services. 'We now have the template,' he said. 'We are having interesting conversations about APMS contracts and providing proper GP clinics.'

Simon Chipperfield, vice-president of medical services for Atos Origin ­ an IT services firm with experience in occupational health services ­ said it would be open to providing more services from its Manchester walk-in centre.

The company was also keen to take on chronic disease management or targeting hard-to-reach patients.

Mr Chipperfield said: 'There are opportunities for similar kinds of walk-in centres, to set up and run primary care practices in areas where there are

issues with existing provision or the NHS can't get people interested.'

Both companies insisted their contracts had 'extensive' measures to ensure quality and patient safety. GPs had questioned the deals, arguing private pro-viders were not subject to the same scrutiny as practices.

'The Government wants to make sure we deliver exactly what the local NHS delivers,' said Mr Appleyard. 'They are keen to see we are not cutting corners.'

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