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Council puts all public health LESs out to tender

GPs in North Yorkshire have been asked to reapply for all public health LESs worth £1.8m by their local authority after the county council was given control of the public health budget on 1 April, a Pulse investigation has revealed.

North Yorkshire County Council has opted to put together an ‘approved list’ for providers of local services, which has the potential to stay in place until 2017. This is despite Department of Health advice that stated that local authorities could renew expired public health services contracts for a short time for the sake of continuity.

A Pulse Freedom of Information request to local authorities around England showed that NYCC is the first to put public health LESs out to tender, following fears expressed earlier this year that GPs may have to compete increasingly with other providers.

In its FOI response the council said: ‘A new contractual arrangement has been negotiated between NYCC and GP and pharmacy representatives in order to ensure continuity of [local enhanced] services. NYCC has opened an Approved List for Primary Care Services (Public Health).’

‘We are currently processing applications for this list which is open to anyone who is able to meet the criteria of the contract and service specifications and these will be issued once a provider is approved. In line with contract procedure pules, an approved list cannot be in place longer than five years before a replacement is established and have proposed a timeframe of four years (to 31.03.2017) before renewal is required.’

The services provided in North Yorkshire up until 31 March included smoking cessation services, with an aggregated value of £130,000; NHS health checks with a budget of £500,000; long acting reversible contraceptives worth £660,000; chlamydia screening worth £10,000; and a drug misuse LES with a value of £180,000. The local authorities said they are taking all those services forward but that they are currently in the process of implementing the list of approved providers.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘I think that it is unfortunate that the local authority has taken this approach when the Government advised that LESs were extended for 2013/14 for a period of stability. I think this is creating unnecessary bureaucracy and further instability at a time when the whole system is undergoing major transitional change. This seems to be an unnecessary addition.’

But North Yorkshire LMC director Dr John Crompton said local practices have worked through the process, allowing services to continue.

He commented: ‘The health checks and the other public health services are continuing. There have been some minor amendments to them but we have worked through those.’