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Practices invited to bid for £5bn voluntary GP contract

GPs and other healthcare providers have been invited by NHS Dudley CCG to bid for the first voluntary GP contract that has been put out to tender. 

Under the contract, worth up to £5.4bn, the successful bidder will be expected to deliver a range of services including urgent and end-of-life care to more than 300,000 patients for 15 years.

The plans will create the first ‘multispecialty community provider’ (MCP), the new model of expanded general practice launched by former Prime Minister David Cameron as a ‘voluntary contract’ in 2015.

In addition to a range of healthcare services and taking on ‘activities currently carried out by the CCG’, such as financial management and IT, the provider may also be asked to take on services currently provided by local government, the notice of tender says.

In addition, ‘during the lifetime of the contract’ the provider could also be asked to deliver services currently commissioned by the voluntary sector and ‘any other related ancillary services’ to public health.

The provider will also be expected to manage ’emergency admissions from care homes and/or admissions attributable to falls or ambulatory care sensitive conditions’, the tender document adds.

Paul Maubach, head of the Dudley MCP pilot project, said that while GPs are invited to bid for the contract, they will not be successful by themselves as they ‘don’t have the range of skills and experience to provide the full range of services provided by the MCP’.

GPs could partner with local foundation trusts, including Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust and Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, or healthcare companies such as Virgin Care Ltd to provide the full range of services.

Mr Maubach said the site is an ‘extensive MCP model’ that not only includes primary and community services but also services that are traditionally delivered in a hospital setting.

He said: ‘We think, with all the evidence, that it really delivers better patient care and it also really delivers much better clinical relationships and integration between GPs and other parts of the system.’

Bids for the contract will close on 13 July, with the contract coming into effect on 1 April 2018, a full year after NHS England’s six MCP pilot areas were expected to launch.

The contract is valued at a range of between £3.5bn and £5.4bn depending on the extent to which local GPs are integrated with the MCP.

The Dudley MCP pilot currently includes all 46 GP practices that are members of NHS Dudley CCG but when the contract goes live, they can choose whether they want to ‘fully’ or ‘partially’ integrate with the MCP – the latter version enabling them to retain their current GMS/PMS contract.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee, urged GPs to be cautious when considering ‘moving to a time-limited contract’.

He said: ‘The key issue is that whilst the MCP model is being promoted in some areas, we would contend that there are many other ways that practices can collaborate both with one another and with other organisations and social care within their area without necessarily putting their long-term GMS/PMS contract in jeopardy.

‘Once a practice has moved into an MCP arrangement it certainly risks the long-term viability of their contract so they need to be absolutely confident that that’s the right choice for them and their patients and also their successors because this is a once-in-a-generation change that they will be making.’

This could be one of the largest NHS service tenders after NHS Manchester CCGs sought to procure a 10-year contract covering all non-acute care for £6bn.

It comes as Pulse has previously revealed that GPs on the new contract may face financial penalties applied if they fail to improve local population health or if patients are dissatisfied.