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Independents' Day

Row as Kent GPs win bid to run new Darzi Somerset

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs have reacted with anger after a PCT awarded a new APMS practice to a GP provider based almost 200 miles away.

In the latest tender to be announced, Kent-based GP group Malling Health was announced as preferred provider for a GP practice in Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, as part of Lord Darzi's rollout of surgeries in under-doctored areas.

North Somerset PCT also revealed that Gryphon Health, a hybrid of local GPs and OOH provider Harmoni, was the preferred provider for a GP-led health centre on the other side of the town.

But local GPs claim the decision to award the contract for the GP practice to a group from Kent felt like a ‘slap in the face'.

Dr Peter Maksimczyk, a GP in Weston-super-Mare, who lost out in the bidding to run the practice, said GPs from outside would struggle to tackle the needs of the local population, and fears that the new practice will suck up resources.

He said: ‘I can't really see how GPs from Kent can pick up the difficulties. Practice is different in towns like Weston.

‘I've got no doubt the funding will be massive - outsiders are going to be expensive. We've done everything we can to support the PCT in terms of looking carefully at the way we refer and being effective in our prescribing. It's very difficult to see this as anything other than a complete slap in the face.'

Pulse first revealed last month how some providers were bidding for services up to 150 miles from their practices, sparking a row in the profession.

But Dr Thomas Reichhelm, a GP in West Malling, Kent, and development lead for Malling Health, said GPs shouldn't fear them just because they are newcomers.

He said: ‘We're aware that there might be some initial rejection but we're fairly confident that by meeting people in person, we'll be able to convince them that we have no bad intentions. We are still traditional general practice.

‘We have already started the process of finding out the local sensitivities and what matters locally. It's quite refreshing to bring a new outlook and perspective.'

Lord Darzi: has encouraged GPs to compete for contracts at opposite ends of the country Lord Darzi: has encouraged GPs to compete for contracts at opposite ends of the country

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