NHS England has commissioned a third sector provider to take on an APMS contract for 12 months after all partners at a GP practice in Braintree, Essex, resigned.
In a statement on the St Lawrence Medical Centre’s website, patients have been informed that their GP needs will now be met by locum doctors until the APMS provider has been able to employ permanent GPs.
The contract has been handed to Provide, a staff-owned social enterprise which delivers more than 50 community healthcare services across Essex, outer north east London, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which said it saw this as a ‘unique opportunity’ to integrate GP and community services.
The statement on the practice website said: ‘Following the resignation of the GP partners, Provide has been commissioned to run the practice commencing from 1 June 2015.
‘There will be no change to the opening times, the way appointments are booked or the out-of-hours services. Locum doctors will be providing GP services until we have recruited permanent GPs.’
Meanwhile, a branch surgery of the St Lawrence Medical Practice in Silver End has been taken on by another GP practice, the Little Watham & Great Notley Surgery.
Provide’s APMS contract expires in 12 months time and if it wants to keep running the practice it will have to go through a new tender process to be run ahead of 1 June next year.
A spokesperson for Provide told Pulse: ‘The opportunity to manage St Lawrence Medical Practice was put out to tender by NHS England.
‘As a current provider of a GP surgery, and the provider of community services in Mid Essex, we felt we were in a unique position to develop and improve integration between primary and community services.’
The news comes after Pulse revealed last year that NHS England was planning for all new GP contracts going to be time-limited APMS contracts put out to tender due to competition regulations. However NHS England managers later backtracked on the claims.
APMS contracts were introduced in 2004 to open up primary care to ‘new providers’ and were famously used to procure the Labour government’s ill-fated ‘Darzi’ centres across the country.
Meanwhile a recent study, published in April, concluded that opening up the NHS to competition from private providers via APMS contracting ‘may have even led to worse care’.