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Top GP’s APMS bid beaten by private firm

By Gareth Iacobucci

Claims that GPs are given a fair crack at tenders for APMS practices have suffered a huge blow, after the Government's leading adviser on access was outbid by a private firm.

Dr Sam Everington, former deputy chair of the BMA and reigning European GP of the Year, lost out to private company Atos Healthcare in a bid for an APMS practice – with opening hours apparently a key factor.

News of the decision came as health secretary Alan Johnson set out plans to go even further than predecessors in forging an NHS role for the private sector.

He has told colleagues he wants retail giants such as Tesco, Asda and Virgin to be fully fledged employers of GPs rather than just providing the premises, Pulse has learned.

But the decision by Tower Hamlets PCT to reject the bid by Dr Everington is a blow to claims of a level playing field and an embarrassment to the Government, which appointed him chief adviser on access to Lord Darzi's NHS review.

Dr Everington was one of three parties shortlisted to take on a former PCT-run practice in Tower Hamlets, East London, near his own award-winning practice in Bromley-by-Bow.

The PCT said it had awarded the contract to Atos after judging on criteria such as ‘opening hours, appointment availability, quality systems, range of services and how well they understood local need'.

The practice will offer appointments from 8am-8pm on weekdays and from 9am-5pm on Saturdays, and will also offer a walk-in service.

A spokesperson for Atos, which will take over from the end of next month, said it was ‘committed to further improve the way care is delivered'.

But local GP Dr Kambiz Boomla, who was also shortlisted, described the decision as a ‘tragedy'. He said: ‘It doesn't seem a level playing field. Our bid was good, and I'm sure Sam Everington's bid was good.

‘If two practices like ours are unable to win a tender against the private sector, it seems very unlikely any others would.'

Dr Everington was unavailable for comment.

But GP leaders chose this week to mount a huge attack on the Government's APMS plans, claiming that private firms provided inferior care to traditional practices.

In a letter to Lord Darzi this week, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Patients in an APMS practice run by a private organisation would be at a disadvantage to those at a traditional general practice.'

Health secretary Alan Johnson last month on the Government's APMS plans APMS: a level playing field?

This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurial
GPs as well as the independent sector
to develop innovative services for patients

Dr Sam Everington: his failure to win APMS contract raises questions over tendering process Dr Sam Everington: his failure to win APMS contract raises questions over tendering process Dr Kambiz Boomla, Tower Hamlets GP who along with Dr Everington lost out to Atos Dr Kambiz Boomla

If two practices like ours are unable to win a tender against the private sector, it seems very unlikely any others would

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