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GP group take over £6.4m out-of-hours contract from private company

GPs told by the health secretary to ‘be brave’ in their bid to take back responsibility for out of hours in east London have won the £6.4m contract, unseating the private company currently running the service.

City and Hackney CCG announced today that they have awarded the four-year contract to the group of local GPs after a nine-month tendering process. The decision means that private company Harmoni will no longer run the service.

In January, Harmoni’s contract was extended and the PCT board decided that GPs in the area should not be allowed to take control of out-of-hours services, despite a two-year planning process that signed up four in five GPs in the area. The PCT cluster said that due to competition laws it could not allow the GPs to run the service.

In April, health secretary Jeremy Hunt gave his backing to the GPs, telling them to ‘be brave’ and try to overturn the PCT’s January decision.

Today the City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise (CHUHSE), run by a group of local GPs won the contract.

Dr Clare Highton, chair of NHS City and Hackney CCG who was not involved in the decision, said: ‘I am really delighted that the CHUHSE bid has been successful and I look forward to working with them to develop an excellent out-of-hours service.’ 

Dr Deborah Colvin, who led the campaign to win back out of hours care, said: ‘It’s about local GPs being involved, people who understand that area and know the other GPs in that area and actually get to know the basic patients in that area.’

She added:  ‘I think it shouldn’t have taken this long. If they’d just said “yes you can do it” when we had asked then it would have saved everyone a lot of time and money and anguish. I feel very angry about it.’