Patients urged to boycott new private super surgery

Posted on August 27, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories | Tags: , |

Camden News Journal | By Tom Foot | 27 August 2009

Health campaigners warn of slippery slope to privatising NHS

ANTI-PRIVATISATION campaigners are calling on patients to boycott a new “super-surgery” in Euston.

Private company Care UK as been named the preferred bidder to run the GP-led health centre ahead of a consortium of south Camden doctors and without any consultation. 

NHS Camden, the borough’s Primary Care Trust, believes it does not have to consult on the centre, which is expected to open in Hampstead Road in December.

But lawyers disagree and are poised to launch a legal challenge that could stall the process and land NHS bosses up in the High Court.

Candy Udwin, chairwoman of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: “A privatised GP health centre is just the next step on the privatisation road that threatens the National Health Service as we know it. We are telling patients at nearby surgeries to boycott the health centre.”

The decision to give millions of pounds of NHS funding to a private company, ahead of a consortium of local doctors, mirrors the decision last April to award the American healthcare giant UnitedHealth contracts to run three south Camden surgeries.

Decisions on who runs what are made by NHS Camden board members and overseen by the official patients’ representative group, Camden Link.

Link chairman Neil Woodnick, who sat in on the committee that awarded United Health a contract, said: “We asked, specifically about the GP-led health centre, how much weighting there was on value for money. I was told 70 per cent was quality of the service, and 30 per cent was value for money. 

“The big thing about United Healthcare was that value for money seemed to come in later. It was said that the PCT moved the goalposts during the consultation. Value for money suddenly became an important thing – UH bid £25 less per patient than the GPs. 

“The fact is that these contracts are set up as legal contracts obliged to offer it to other firms. You cannot say we are not prepared to take any bids from the private sector – it’s illegal to do that. The whole thing is about outcome. 

“Are the patients satisfied? If you look at United Health practices, the numbers of patients has increased r oughly by 8 per cent. If they are not happy, patients will walk with their feet.”

Campaigners to sue as private firm wins contract for GP centre

London Evening Standard | By Anna Davis, Health Reporter | 20 August 2009

Campaigners are to sue the NHS after control of a new health centre was awarded to a private company.

Lawyers have written to Camden primary care trust warning they could start proceedings over the decision to award Care UK the contract for the GP-led centre in Hampstead Road.

They are demanding the scheme be postponed until the public has been properly consulted. The trust has angered residents by announcing Care UK had beaten local NHS GPs to the contract — before public consultation ends on 9 October.

In a separate move, trust bosses have awarded a contract to provide physiotherapy in Camden to the private firm Connect Physical Health Ltd.

Campaigners fear the new GP-led health centres, which must be set up in every primary care trust in the country under government reforms, will put profits before patient care.

Care UK already runs GP practices and walk-in centres in Dagenham and Stamford Hill, and the walk-in centre in Victoria. It also provides some services at Brixton prison.

Camden PCT allowed US firm United Health to run three GP surgeries last year. A spokeswoman for campaign group Keep Our NHS Public said: “As private companies have a legal obligation to their shareholders, in the financially stringent times ahead Camden patients will suffer as shareholder dividends are protected.”

Londonwide LMCs demands rethink over Darzi centre private contract

Pulse | By Steve Nowottny | 18 August 2009

GP leaders in London are demanding that NHS Camden rethink its decision to award the contract for a new GP-led health centre to private company Care UK.

They warned there is ‘no evidence’ that the PCT ‘has effectively or meaningfully consulted with the people of Camden’, and urged trust bosses to reconsider, claiming the centre is not the best use of resources or most effective way to provide care.

In an open letter to the PCT’s chair, Dr Paddy Glackin, medical director of Londonwide LMCs, said local GPs had concerns about the scoring system used to award the contract, as well as the extent of public consultation.

It comes as the Keep Our NHS Public campaign group mulls whether to press ahead with a legal challenge to the contract award.

The anti-privatisation campaigners, supported by local GPs and patients, sent a ‘letter before action’ to the PCT on behalf of a local pensioner earlier this month.

They have now received a response from the PCT and are discussing with solicitors whether to proceed with the challenge.

In the letter released today, Dr Glackin said: ‘We have seen no evidence that the PCT has effectively or meaningfully consulted with the people of Camden about whether they feel that opening a GP-led health centre would be the best and most effective manner of spending money to improve their care. We seriously doubt whether this is the best use of scarce NHS resources.’

‘Given the PCT’s repeated failure to consult adequately with the local community we call on the PCT board, its executive and non-executive directors, to reconsider its decision to award the contract at this time and to ensure that adequate meaningful consultation with the local community occurs in all future tendering processes.’

Dr Glackin added: ‘We have concerns about the scoring system used by the PCT, which gives no weighting to local knowledge or experience. We believe that organisations and individuals with a proven track record of providing high quality clinical services to the people of Camden should have had some recognition of that fact. ‘

And he also raised concerns about whether the new centre – near Euston and St Pancras stations – would be used more by commuters and walk-in patients than by local patients.

A spokesperson for NHS Camden said: ‘Unfortunately we have not yet officially received this letter from the LMC. However, if the contents are the same as the text sent to the newspaper, then we are very surprised at the LMC’s views.’

‘Throughout the tendering process for the GP led health centre, a representative from the LMC was involved, taking an active role in the decision-making process, and they raised no concerns with process or the final outcome.’

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