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Private GP provider commits ‘serious breach’ of contract

Private GP provider commits ‘serious breach’ of contract

A large private GP provider has committed a ‘serious breach’ of its APMS contract, according to London ICBs. 

Last month, three London ICBs announced that the successor to Operose Health had actioned an unauthorised ‘change of control’. 

The HCRG Care Group – formerly known as Virgin Care – agreed to buy Operose Health last year, which ran nearly 60 GP practices across the UK via ownership of AT Medics. 

According to the London ICBs, the companies requested ‘authorisation’ for a change of control at the end of November, at which point a ‘due diligence exercise’ began to assess the new owner.

However, before this authorisation was granted, the companies went ahead with the ‘change of control’ on 28 December and failed to inform NHS commissioners. 

North West London (NWL) ICB has now confirmed that AT Medics was ‘in breach’ of a clause in its APMS contract, which the ICB considers ‘serious’. 

Pending approval from primary care leaders in the borough, NWL will issue a ‘breach notice’ to the company which says they are currently deciding on ‘further action’. 

The breach notice emphasised that the ICB reserves its right to ‘terminate’ the contracts.

According to the ICBs, AT Medics has breached the following clause: ‘Save in respect of a public limited company listed on an internationally recognised exchange the Contractor shall not undergo a Change of Control without the prior authorisation of the Commissioner and subject to such conditions as the Commissioner may impose.’

NWL’s proposed breach notice said: ‘We consider this to be a serious breach and are currently considering what further action to take under the Contracts. 

‘This breach notice is entirely without prejudice to, and we fully reserve, our ability to exercise any of our rights under the Contracts, and to enforce any of the terms and conditions of the Contracts, at any time. This includes, without limitation, our right to terminate the Contracts.’

A spokesperson for Operose Health said patients ‘continue to be seen by the same practice teams’ despite the change of control.

They said: ‘There was a change in the ultimate ownership of the company as the previous owners required completion of the transaction at the end of the year.

‘Our priority has, and always will be, providing our patients with high quality primary care and we’ll continue to work with the ICBs to provide them with the assurances and information they require.’

Pulse has approached the parent companies, HCRG Care Group and Centene Corporation, for comment. 

Last month, a community health trust in North East London won four APMS contracts, two of which were previously run by Operose Health. 

This brought the total number of GP contracts under the trust’s control to ten. 



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

Liquorice Root- Bitter and Twisted. 17 May, 2024 12:54 pm

NHSE reminds me of the sorcerer’s apprentice.

Y oh Y 17 May, 2024 8:23 pm

I think this is the same ICS in breech of failing the inequalities act & following their own patient charter, having public meetings in private & muting patient voice (or noise as is their preferred term) and recently threatening GPs with the GMC!

All in bed together methinks. Stinks of corruption. No concern for patients at their heart.

Or maybe I’m being too mean, and they weren’t really planning on scrapping GP services anyway by their same day access hubs & really care. Sorry if you have taken offense as we are aware you are oft in print in the Pulse & BMJ, and it must be hard on you all & your jobs.

David Church 17 May, 2024 10:36 pm

The previous company/owner had a Contract for a specified term, and it was under an obligation to fulfill that contract itself, not free to change owners or delegate responsibility at will.
If they tried to sell up before contract end without permission, they are failing their responsibilities and in breach of the contract. This is not allowed, and they had previously given their word that they would not do this. Clearly this undertaking from them was of no value?
Can the succcessor/purchaser be trusted any more?
Actual GPs in GMS would not be allowed to do this! This is discrimination.