|Health Secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed that the private sector will dominate the rollout of new GP services
The plans, which revealed the health secretary's desire for a major new role for private firms, will open the door for the likes of Virgin, Asda and Tesco to run primary care as well as providing premises, and will highten GPs fears about the fairness of the bidding processes.
Discussing the new centres, the health secretary said: ‘Lots of them will be run by the private sector. ‘We will bring in GPs employed by private organisations.'
The health secretary's confirmation of the Government's plans follows the recent controversy in Tower Hamlets, where private firm Atos was awarded a new APMS contract ahead of top-performing local GPs, including the Government's own lead adviser on access, Dr Sam Everington.
The GPC last week accused the Government of paving the way for private firms to dominate the rollout of new surgeries, as anger grows over perceived bias against GPs in the tender process.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC vice-chair said the bidding process for APMS services was a 'David and Goliath' scenario that was 'very much slanted against local practices.'
He said: ‘The Government has no interest in local practices being able to provide these services, this is simply about looking for big business to provide services in a completely different way to the traditional general practice that patients know and love.'
A Department of Health spokeswoman confirmed that the Government was looking to private companies to run the new centres, but said that the procurement process was ‘open to anyone, whether it's the private sector or NHS GPs.'
It is now a matter of public record that 91% of the new polyclinics are to be run, or are already being run by the private sector and not local GPs
But leading GPs expressed doubts over the real reasons for expansion plans. Dr James Kingsland, chair of the National Association Primary Care, said it pointed to major holes in PCTs' commissioning expertise.
‘We're going to be spending a lot of taxpayer's money on independent organisations helping PCT management to aspire to things they were appointed to in the first place,' he said.
North Yorkshire and york PCT are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of the tax payers money on publicity alone, only to hand the proposed polyclinic/superclinic to the private sector and not local GPs.
In an attempt to deceive the Scarborough area public the PCT have now dropped the terms ‘Darzi and polyclinic' and are using the terms, ‘extended GPs services' and ‘extended health services', do not be deceived they all mean the same, the loss of your GPs surgeries and a no choice super clinic.