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GPs appeal against tendering decision

By Amy Fallon

GPs have launched an appeal after a PCT awarded the contract for running a local surgery to a private company without launching a full public consultation.

Furious locals claim the contract for the running of The New Surgery in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, has been handed to a commercial organisation after ‘refusing' to properly evaluate the other options available.

A group of GPs from three separate practices in the town, their patients and other residents, have lodged an appeal with the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

They say the PCT did not discuss its plans for The New Surgery, now known as The Practice, with the town's healthcare professionals or elected representatives.

Dr John Cormack, a local GP, is outraged at the move that he says goes against local opinion.

'They have put all the community people's noses out of joint by making a decision that they were strongly opposed to.'

He added: 'It is the most peculiar situation. If you look, all the decisions that are made, they're all made behind closed doors.'

Dr Cormack said locals have carried out an informal public consultation exercise that proves residents are against the change.

'The result was overwhelmingly in favour of a solution which would give the town a say in the running of the practice and would ensure that any profits were used to pay for the healthcare of the patients,' he said.

Dr Cormack said he was expecting a decision from the SHA any day, but would if the appeal is rejected, judicial review 'remains a possibility'.

A spokesperson from the NHS Mid Essex, defended the move, saying they had followed an open market tendering process according to NHS guidelines and had involved one patient in the process.

Dr Andrew Hildrey, clinical chair of primary care at NHS Mid Essex, said: 'The PCT is fully aware of and complies with its duty to involve patients in the planning of any new or significantly changed services.'

'In this case no changes were planned to the provision of services or the way in which they were provided.'

Dr Hildrey also said a patient representative had been 'fully involved' in the evaluation of short-listed bids and attended interviews.

GPs appeal against tendering decision