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Will polyclinic decisions bear closer scrutiny?

'It's not the winning or the losing...it's the taking part that counts.' Wise words when it comes to sporting endeavours, no doubt. But perhaps less applicable when it comes to the Equitable Access to Primary Care polyclinic procurement.

By Steve Nowottny

'It's not the winning or the losing...it's the taking part that counts.' Wise words when it comes to sporting endeavours, no doubt. But perhaps less applicable when it comes to the Equitable Access to Primary Care polyclinic procurement.

We now know about the winners – or some of them, anyway, as more and more details emerge about the awarding of the contracts for the new wave of GP-led health centres. (See our report that private companies have been involved in a quarter of the successful bids announced to date.) But what we've heard less about so far is those who've lost out.

552 bidders were shortlisted for the 121 GP-led health centres being procured outside London, so inevitably, a lot of those who had applied to run one were going to be disappointed. And in many cases, even if the decision on who should run the centre was taken behind closed doors, the outcome makes perfect sense.

But there are also cases which may with time bear a little closer examination. The PCT which chose a private out-of-hours provider over a consortium of 40 local GPs – even though it had a somewhat difficult history with other private out-of-hours providers.

Another trust which decided not to award a contract at all and will re-tender, despite having had a number of bids, including those linked to local GPs. And, as we've already reported, contracts awarded to GP-led companies based in some cases hundreds of miles away.

The other point, of course, is that the taking part doesn't just count, it costs – in some cases up to £90,000 for each bid. Which is a big investment to write off if you believe you were hard done by.

At the moment things are very quiet, with only the winners going on the record and those who might want to question a decision doing so privately, according to the proper procedures. But over the coming weeks we can expect to hear more from some of those who lost out.

And of course, if you were involved in a bid, whether successful or not, we would like to hear from you. You can leave a comment at the bottom or, if you'd prefer to get in touch directly, email snowottny@cmpmedica.com or call 0207 921 8104.

The cost of bidding can run to £90,000 - which is quite a hit if you lose out Recent posts

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'The UK's most improved GPs' How is that exactly? January 14
So who will be running those polyclinics? January 14
Darzi and QOF reports will shape the coming months January 13
Love it or loathe it, the Summary Care Record is finally here January 12
Reheated NHS Choices plan repeats on ministers January 8
MPs to give their views on Darzi. What are yours? January 8
Crystal ball gazing for 2009 January 7
Behind the curtain: our new blog January 7

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