LMCs have warned that local authorities are lumbering GPs with unworkable bureaucracy in order to bid for public health work, and are showing ‘no recognition’ of the constraints on smaller practices.
Local authorities took control of the £2.7bn NHS public health budget from April, and LMC leaders are warning that practices will miss out on public health contracts if they do not band together.
Pulse has learnt that one LMC has already begun to set up an ‘umbrella company’ for practices to bid for contracts under Any Qualified Provider.
Pulse revealed in March that the Department of Health had advised local authorities that GPs should not be given ‘preferred provider status’ and they should use ‘appropriate procurement approaches’, that under current rules, legal experts claim will result in the majority of LESs being put out to a full competitive tender.
Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive Officer of Londonwide LMCs, said that local authorities were giving GPs “300 page” tender documents for them to bid for public health work, such as cardiovascular screening, sexual health services and smoking cessation services.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse, she said: ‘There’s no specificity, no recognition that actually we’re just dealing with small organisations. However big you are as a practice you’re still relatively small compared to Serco.’
Dr Barry Moyse, chair of Somerset LMC, said that it was in the process of setting up an ‘umbrella provider’ company to enable local practices to collectively bid for work under AQP.
He said: ‘[Somerset] LMC is facilitating setting up an umbrella provider company to help Somerset practices make bids under the AQP rules.’
Dr Nigel Watson, GP and chief executive of Wessex LMCs,expressed further concerns that local authorities ‘may not have the capacity’ to offer public health work to a number of small GP surgeries
He added that GPs will have to ‘band together with other practices to maintain’ current public health services.