PCT faces High Court over contract award

Posted on October 22, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: , , |

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | 21 October 2009

A PCT is facing a High Court battle over its decision to award a GP-led health centre to private firm Care UK.

Residents have begun legal action against NHS Camden over an alleged lack of consultation on the centre.

Legal firm Leigh Day and Co has issued an application for Judicial Review on behalf of claimant Bob Austin, a former councillor backed by anti-privatisation campaigners.

The case centres on a consultation document recently issued by the trust about its GP services, which included information about plans for a GP-led health centre.

The consultation was not due to finish until October but the PCT announced on 31 July that Care UK had been selected to run the clinic.

Opponents of the new centre, which will be located close to Euston station, believe it could lead to the closure of local GP practices and are demanding a full consultation.

Candy Udwin, chair of the Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaign group, said: ‘The consultation has been a sham. The PCT has chosen the site, awarded the contract and started advertising for staff before the consultation has even closed.’

Dr Mark Atkinson, NHS Camden chief executive, said the trust would ‘rigorously defend’ itself against the accusations.

‘No legal case has yet been lodged at the High Court. If that happens, NHS Camden will rigorously defend Camden patients’ rights to expansion of local GP services.’

The PCT also found itself at the centre of controversy over an APMS tender in 2008, when it awarded three local GP practices to UnitedHealth, despite a rival GP bid being rated higher for planned service provision.
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PCT threatened with legal action over Darzi centre

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | 5 August 2009

The Keep Our NHS Public campaign group are threatening NHS Camden with legal action over an alleged lack of consultation on a new GP-led health centre in north London.

The anti-privatisation campaigners, supported by local GPs and patients, are demanding that the PCT suspends its plans for a new Darzi centre near Euston station, pending a full local consultation.

Legal firm Leigh Day and Co have served the trust with a letter before action on behalf of a local pensioner, Willibald Davies, which claims the PCT have not consulted adequately on the procurement, and should immediately cease the process until a full local consultation has taken place.

Opponents to the new centre, which will be run by private firm Care UK, believe it could lead to the closure of local GP practices in the area.

The controversy centres on a consultation document recently issued by the trust about the future of Camden’s GP services, which included information about the GP-led health centre.

Although the consultation is not due to finish until October, the PCT announced on 31 July that Care UK had beaten local GPs to run the clinic.

Local campaigners have also threatened to organise a public boycott of any new clinic if their demands for a full consultation period are not met.

The latest battle is the second time in as many years the PCT has found itself at the centre of controversy over an APMS tender. In 2008, the trust was heavily criticised for awarding three local GP practices to US-giant United Health, despite local GPs being rated as offering substantially better services.

Camden was also one of two north London trusts which held secret talks with private providers including Virgin Healthcare about running the country’s first fully-fledged polyclinic before the public had been consulted.

Rob Larkman, NHS Camden Chief Executive, said: ‘Since 2007 NHS Camden has made clear our desire to increase access to GP services for the people of South Camden, one of the most deprived areas of the borough. By the end of 2009 a brand new health centre with a brand new GP practice will open offering local people world class health care, at times convenient for local residents.’

‘It is incorrect to suggest that we are presently subject to a Judicial Review. No case against NHS Camden has been lodged with the courts’.

Fears over privatisation plan for GP centre

Ham & High | Tan Parsons | 6 August 2009

CAMPAIGNERS are threatening legal action over NHS Camden’s decision to hand control of a health centre to a private company.

Last Friday (July 31) the group confirmed that the contract to run a new GP-led health centre in Hampstead Road would be awarded to Care UK, a company that in April this year was criticised in a BBC Panorama investigation into the quality of elderly homecare.

Campaigners were also furious that NHS Camden’s decision was announced more than two months ahead of the conclusion of their Primary and Urgent Care Strategy consultation on October 9.

Leigh Day and Co solicitors have now served NHS Camden with a letter before action on behalf of Camden pensioner, Willibald Davies, who has diabetes. The firm has insisted that NHS Camden should immediately halt the procurement process and the signing of any contract until full local consultation has taken place.

Chairwoman of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, Candy Udwin, said: “We are appalled by the idea that more private companies could get a toehold in Camden family doctors services.

“The fact there’s been no consultation makes it even more appalling. 

“People want to see a family doctor who knows them and their problems and who sees them every time they go to the doctors.”

The proposed development is one of the so called ‘GP-led health centres’ that was being promoted by Lord Darzi before he resigned last month as health minister.

NHS Camden’s decision to select Care UK as the preferred bidder follows the controversial appointment of private American firm United Health to run three local GP practices in the south of Camden.

However, patients spokesman Neil Woodnick, who is chairman of the Camden Local Involvement Network, said that a consultation would only delay the inevitable.

He said: “Even if there is a judicial review and NHS Camden was forced to hold a consultation, you have to remember a consultation isn’t a democratic process. 

“They could still award the contract to whoever they choose.

“At the moment figures show there is overall patient satisfaction at the surgeries run by United Health, so I’m not that worried about the prospect of another private care provider. 

“But obviously we will monitor the situation closely and see how it works out. We are more concerned about how confusing it is for people in Camden now. 

“How do they know whether to go to accident and emergency, an urgent care unit or the GP-led health centre?”

A spokeswoman for NHS Camden said that no case against the organisation had been lodged with the courts at the time the Ham&High went to press.

She said: “Since 2007 we have made clear our desire to increase access to GP services for the people of South Camden, one of the most deprived areas of the borough.

“By the end of 2009 a brand new health centre with a brand new GP practice will open, offering world class health care at times convenient for local residents.

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