The procurement of an APMS contract to a private provider – after the closure of a GMS practice – meant costs to the NHS increased by 64%, shows figures obtained by LMC leaders.
Partners at the St Lawrence Medical Practice in Braintree, Essex, were forced to hand their GMS contract back after they were unable to recruit more partners, and NHS England replaced it with an APMS contract run by Virgin Care.
An FOI to NHS England, revealed by Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer from Hertfordshire LMC at the LMCs Conference in Edinburgh, showed that the first year of the Virgin Care practice contract cost 64% more than the final 12 months of St Lawrence’s GMS contract.
The FOI, seen by Pulse, also revealed that the Sutherland Lodge practice in Essex was replaced by a Virgin Care APMS practice that increased costs by 16%. Sutherland Lodge had earlier been awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating by the CQC but was forced to close due to the PMS reviews.
The figures were announced as part of a debate on NHS England’s decision to put all new GP practices contracts out to tender under APMS – first revealed by Pulse.
Local leaders voted in favour of the motion, which called on the GPC to take legal advice to ‘challenge the notion that only APMS contracts may be awarded when procuring general medical services’.
Dr Bramall-Stainer told delegates: ‘There was the case of the “Outstanding” Essex practice that was forced into handing back their contract last year due to the enforced PMS contract review.
‘This undermines the whole ethos of long-time continuity of care.’
The FOI response from NHS England said: ‘The budget for the current APMS contract (which commenced on 1 June 2016) will exceed the actual expenditure within the last twelve months of the former GMS partnership (1 June 2014 to 31 May 2015).
‘Following the procurements of the current APMS contracts for the St Lawrence and Sutherland Lodge practices we can confirm that the procurements resulted in the following approximate percentage increases in contract value rates compared to the GMS and PMS arrangements previously in place; St Lawrence: 64%; Sutherland Lodge: 16%.’
Pulse revealed earlier this year that more practices closed in 2016 than ever before.
Virgin Care was approached for comment, but did not respond in time for publication.