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GP partner to lose APMS contract as protests fail to sway ICB

GP partner to lose APMS contract as protests fail to sway ICB

Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB will go ahead with a controversial plan to put a popular GP’s APMS contract out to a competitive re-tender.

The Withnell Health Centre in Chorley has been run by GP partner Dr Ann Robinson for 11 years but her time-limited APMS contract runs out in September.

Dr Robinson and her patients have been campaigning for her to be allowed to re-contract without a competitive tender process, for which they claimed there was a legal avenue.

However after seeking legal advice on the new Provider Selection Regime (PSR), the ICB’s primary care commissioning committee has made a final decision to go ahead with the competitive tender ‘as quickly as possible’.

Lancashire and Cumbria ICB chief operating officer Professor Craig Harris said: ‘Based on consideration of all procurement routes and the associated published guidance, we believe that this is the option which will give the quickest route to securing the best outcome for Withnell Health Centre and its patients and staff.

‘The ICB has engaged widely with the local population and the feedback will make a valuable contribution to the competitive procedure.’

The ICB had already awarded the Withnell Health Centre contract to another provider, SSP Health, following a procurement process in 2022, however it decided to extend Dr Ann Robinson’s APMS contract to September this year following the patient protests, which had including hundreds of letters.

At the time, Dr Robinson said the public were not properly consulted and hosted multiple protests at the practice demanding a review of the procurement process. 

For the re-tender, Professor Harris said the ICB’s primary care committee is ‘clear that it is important for the new evaluation process which we have developed with involvement of the patient steering group is used which involves local people and embeds learning from the procurement process in 2022’.

‘We recognise the concern within the community and the potential impact on staff and patients and this decision provides an opportunity for a potentially quicker resolution within the timeframes we have set out, while ensuring we follow due process for equity and fairness,’ he added.

Dr Robinson told Pulse that she was ‘very disappointed’ but ‘not surprised’ by the decision made.

She said the competitive route ‘is going to be upsetting for the staff and patients’ and is likely to cause ‘so much distress in the village’.

She added: ‘Writing a bid is time consuming and stressful, and the majority of patients have said they want nothing to change at the health centre.

‘80% of my staff have worked at Withnell for the past 20 years. You just can’t buy that sort of loyalty and continuity of care.

‘This process is killing them and is so unfair. Our practice should be held as an example of good general practice according to so many of my patients.’



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Jarvis 15 March, 2024 12:31 pm

I think in this situation either don’t bid or bid with a 20% raise in price. I am not sure there are now many private set ups bidding for GP practices as they have found they can’t make it work.

Nick Mann 15 March, 2024 12:43 pm

A decade ago there wasn’t Centene or HCRG private equity vying for a bidding process against a single handed GP. The rigged playing field has never been addressed, even after abolition of HSCA 2022. The ICB statement makes no sense whatsoever, whilst patients and GPs continue to be the losers in the ICB’s self-satisfied world view.

J Landen 15 March, 2024 1:11 pm

Another pointless overly bureaucratic decision to justify the ICB

Andrew Jackson 15 March, 2024 1:50 pm

a committed GP and loyal staff who have run the place for 11 years and know the patients
Of course there’s a much better provider out there

Bonglim Bong 15 March, 2024 2:00 pm

Looking at the practice satisfaction scores, the ICB should be working to keep Dr Robinson not the other way around.
Step one in the eligibility criteria for this tender, should be that the bidder can demonstrate they can run a practice where 97% of patients describe their overall experience as good. (or 82% very good)

That also leads to fewer A+E attendances, hospital admissions, fewer referrals and savings in costs which far exceed any difference in the contract awarded.

The ICB is run by idiots if it ends up in the hands of another provider.

Centreground Centreground 15 March, 2024 5:42 pm

If there is a sensible rational cost effective solution to a problem then we can be certain that an ICB or NHSE will not take it.

Post Doc 16 March, 2024 7:28 am

The transition from CCGs to ICBs ensured that any semblance of GP representation or influence in decision making disappeared. The scenario in Lancs and South Cumbria is likely to be replicated around the country unless there is a major change in Govt policy.

M M 16 March, 2024 1:39 pm


M M 16 March, 2024 1:46 pm

Are APMS contracts funded at 15% more per patient? So 10k practice – £150,000. So an extra full time ANP and 6 session GP compared to a GMS practice?!
The ability to employ these in addition to current staff would be transformational to most practices!
What’s utterly bonkers is that if a GMS GP practice were able to charge a £1.20/month fee per patient – (which I’m convinced you would get support for) – they would be able to afford these extra staff too!
And likely achieve similar satisfaction ratings?!

john mackay 18 March, 2024 12:24 pm

Fascinating reading his Linkedin profile. As well as his role with the ICB, he is also currently the MD of a company called “Stonehouse salon and Spa.” In one of his recent NHS roles he “undertook strategic lead roles within the executive portfolio for people and culture, communications and engagement and arranging provision.”

Originally an Executive Nurse in his profile, there doesn’t appear to be any direct Primary Care experience. Whether this impacts on his decision making is a matter of conjecture, but it doesn’t inspire confidence.