NHS forced to close walk-in health centres because they are ‘too popular’

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Closure | Tags: , |

Bureau of Investigative Journalism | June 23rd, 2011 | by Melanie Newman

Walk-in health centres are closing or having their opening hours reduced because they have proved so popular they are becoming unaffordable.

Most of the centres opened less than three years ago under a flagship Labour scheme aimed at improving access to primary care and reducing demand on A&E services.

But instead of being used by people not registered with a doctor, the walk-in centres have also proved extremely attractive to patients unable to get timely or convenient appointments with their own GPs.

This has meant demand for the services has often been far higher than anticipated and now primary care trusts (PCTs), many of which are struggling to balance their books, are being forced to cut opening hours, or even close the centres.

Flawed thinking over policy 
Research by the Bureau has identified 18 centres across the country that have been closed, are under threat of closure or have substantially reduced their opening hours.

Instead of unregistered patients, most of those seen at walk-in centres are people that have been unable to get a convenient appointment at their GP surgery.

In Yorkshire Bradford’s Hillside Bridge centre, which was opened in 2008 by then health secretary Alan Johnson, was expected to provide care for 540 walk-in patients by 2013. By December last year it was already seeing 1,530 patients, with no corresponding fall in A&E admissions registered in local hospitals. The centre’s opening hours are  currently under review.

This April a centre in Bedford had its opening hours cut by an hour and a half a day because excess demand meant it was running £100,000 over budget.

walk-in service in Barnsley closed last October after being overwhelmed by four times theexpected number of patients. And in Calderdale, West Yorkshire health bosses are reviewing the future of two walk-in centres where demand has put huge pressure on the facilities. Their hours have already been cut.

Health chiefs in many areas incorrectly predicted the centres would mainly attract patients not already registered with family doctors, and they expected A&E attendances to plummet as a result. However there is little evidence that this has been the case. Instead many of the patients seen at walk-in centres are people that have been unable to get a convenient appointment at their GP surgery.

NHS Calderdale medical director Matt Walsh told the Yorkshire Post the centres were unaffordable: “The level of demand is much higher than we commissioned. The majority of patients using the walk-in are doing so with non-urgent conditions in core hours when they could be seen by their own GP practice,” he said. “There has been no reduction in A&E attendances and patients have not chosen to register with the practice.”

Closures across the country
Other areas where centres have closed or are closing despite their popularity include Salford andNottingham which have each closed two walk-in centresManchester, which is closing three, andStockport, whose centre is closing during GP opening hours. NHS chiefs are considering closing a further centre in Peterborough.

In Trafford a centre has been closed since December 2010, “until further notice”.

In the South East, Haringey PCT axed a walk-in centre in March after deciding it was “not an appropriate use of resources”. And last year NHS Bromley blamed its entire primary care deficit on its walk-in centres contract, which it claimed had created “artificial” demand for services.

In some areas local pressure has forced PCTs to rethink their plans. In Southampton, a walk-in centre has been reprieved after former health secretary John Denham declared it was  “too important to close” but its opening hours are to be slashed. Two centres in Derby will also be kept open for a further two years following a local outcry over  plans to close them.

GPs have complained that the centres are paid far more per patient than their own surgeries receive.

In February 2011 the Government announced the NHS Commissioning Board would review all GP-led health centre contracts once they had expired. It said it would be up to GP consortia to decide whether they wanted to re-commission the “open access” parts of the centres.

GPs have complained that the walk-in centres are paid far more per patient than their own surgeries receive.

NHS Partners Network, which represents private providers of NHS services, said it would challenge the decision to review the contracts under competition law if it became the basis for a nationwide round of closures.

Research by the Bureau earlier this year found six privately run commuter health centres based at railways (three in London, and one each in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle stations) were also being closed. However unlike the general walk-in GP surgeries, the commuter centreswere failing to attract enough patients.

In 2010 the flagship commuter centre in Manchester’s Piccadilly run by Atos Healthcare shut, a contract for a centre in Liverpool Street was not renewed, and Newcastle’s commuter centre (Care UK) closed in April 2011. This month the NHS confirmed that the Leeds’ centre would also close.

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£1m-a-year Newcastle walk-in clinic likely to close

Posted on October 25, 2010. Filed under: Closure | Tags: |

Journal Live | 25 Oct 2010

A CITY centre walk-in clinic looks set to close after health chiefs decided it is not good value for money.

The centre at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, in Newcastle city centre, opened in August 2006, but it is likely to close at the end of April next year.

The clinic was intended to give people working in the city centre easy access to health services.

But it has been decided the cost of running the no-appointment clinic – more than £1m a year – is too high given the number of people who use it and the type of illnesses and injuries they have.

Health chiefs say there are other centres, hospital clinics and doctors’ surgeries close to the city centre for people to use and that funding would have to be taken from other services if the clinic was to be kept open.

The centre opened after a contract was agreed between the Department of Health and private operator Care UK. A total of 26 people work there.

A spokeswoman for NHS North of Tyne said: “As commissioners of healthcare, we are discussing whether we should continue a walk-in service on that site once the Department of Health contract with Care UK has ended.

“In doing so, we are considering the impact on patients and the funding implications of taking over the running of the service.

“Since Newcastle Central Walk-in Centre opened, many more NHS services have been established for people who live and work in Newcastle making it easier to access urgent primary care health services.”

Doctors and nurses at the walk-in centre deal with issues such as stomach upsets, ear, eye and throat infections, strains, sprains, minor rashes, scalds, cuts, grazes, bites, stings and minor head injuries.

But some GPs criticised the centre, saying money could be spent more effectively on helping patients at their own practice.

The NHS spokeswoman said that since its opening, GPs in the city have extended their opening hours while other centres have been set up to give people easy access to healthcare.

New facilities include the minor injuries unit at the RVI and the Newcastle University Medical Centre, which is moving to a new surgery in Boots in Eldon Square next week.

Care UK operates 14 walk-in centres for the NHS around the country, but Newcastle is its only outlet in the North East. Nobody was available for comment.
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Care UK chief hits out at renewal process as ITC contracts expire

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: ISTC, News stories, Providers | Tags: , , , , |

Health Service Journal | 21 JANUARY 2010 | BY ALISON MOORE

The process for renewing contracts for the first independent treatment centres has been described as a “pig’s ear” by the chief executive of the largest independent provider in that sector.

Ten of the “first wave” contracts are due to expire in the next six months – with the general election expected midway through that period – and the future of many of the centres is uncertain.

At least one, the Kidderminster treatment centre in Worcestershire, is likely to close its doors. The centre will return to NHS use from next month, although the team running it plans to continue doing NHS work at a local independent hospital.

The future of the Greater Manchester surgical centre hangs on whether owner Trafford Healthcare Trust decides to use the site itself or to rent it out.

Many of the others are likely to continue but will offer treatment at tariff through patient choice, rather than through a block contract.

The firms running the centres have been told they have to go through a tender process to rent the buildings from the NHS – leading to uncertainty for staff and patients.

Mike Parish, chief executive of Care UK, which operates two sites coming up for renewal, said this had led to a “pig’s ear of a process”, with firms being offered short term contract extensions at the last minute because primary care trusts still had the contracts out to tender.

At the Barlborough centre in Chesterfield, run by Care UK, staff had to be formally told they were at risk of redundancy – only for managers to hear the next day that its contract had been extended.

“We have gone absolutely to the precipice with Barlborough,” said Mr Parish. “We have now agreed a short term tenancy with the PCT to give them an extra three or six months to sort out the lease.”

Several PCTs are at an early stage in inviting tenders for their sites. Lincolnshire PCT does not expect a new contract to come into force at its Gainsborough site until next year, according to tender documents. Many new leases will be for only three years, so PCTs and centre operators may have to repeat the process in 2013.

Mr Parish said independent centre operators had expected to switch to payment at tariff for any patients they could attract at the end of the original five year contracts, which offered guaranteed payments regardless of the number of patients treated.

But they learnt a few months ago that if their premises were owned by the NHS, as most are, they would have to go through a tendering process in order to continue to use them. Operators will pay market rent for the sites in future.

“The Department of Health, in its wisdom, decided that there would be some sort of procurement process for the leases,” he said. “It does seem odd that we have to go through a tender process to continue operating hospitals that we have operated for the last five years while NHS hospitals don’t.”

Care UK hit the headlines last week after reports its chairman had made a £21,000 donation to shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley’s office.

Health secretary Andy Burnham wrote to Mr Lansley questioning whether it was acceptable for a shadow minister

to “accept private donations from companies that have a vested interest in their policy areas”.

A Conservative spokesman said the donation was “fully within the rules”.

Independent provider Ramsay said it “understands the need” for a tendering process but some contracts may have extensions to allow this to be concluded.

The Department of Health said it announced in July that there would be a competitive tendering process where the NHS had identified a continuing need for services. It added there has been “an ongoing dialogue” between providers, the local NHS and the DH in each area.

Care UK and Ramsay may apply to run centres they do not operate at present, and Netcare – which runs the Greater Manchester centre – says it will consider case-by-case bidding.

NHS Partners Network director David Worskett was critical of the delay in resolving the contracts.

In some cases, operators will be paid at tariff but are being given “activity plans” by PCTs – an indication of the level of work they will be doing, which should help manage cash flow.

In others, PCTs say they now have sufficient capacity in the local healthcare system but they are willing to lease premises if the independent contractors take the risk of attracting sufficient patients.

The centres will also no longer be bound by “additionality” rules, which prevented NHS clinicians working in them and often forced them to recruit clinical staff from abroad.

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Tories receive £21,000 donation from private health firm

Posted on January 15, 2010. Filed under: News stories | Tags: , |

Healthcare Republic | Neil Durham | 15 January 2010

The Tories are insisting ‘donations from private individuals in no way influence policy-making decisions’ after private health provider Care UK donated £21,000 to fund the personal office of shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Healthcare Republic has reported that Care UK runs GP practices, out-of-hours centres, clinical assessment, treatment and support services and walk-in centres

The Daily Telegraph broke the story that John Nash, a private equity tycoon and the chairman of Care UK, made the donation in November. However, the Tories insist that the donation was from Mr Nash’s wife.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said: ‘We have been completely transparent about this donation. It has been properly registered with the parliamentary register as well as with the Electoral Commission and is therefore fully within the rules.

‘John Nash and his wife have a wide range of interests, of which Care UK is just one. The donation to support Mr Lansley’s office was made through Conservative central headquarters. Mr Lansley did not solicit this donation. Donations from private individuals in no way influence policy-making decisions.’

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Lansley accepts cash donation from wife of Care UK chief

Posted on January 15, 2010. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories | Tags: , , |

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | 15 January 2010

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has accepted a large cash donation from the wife of the head of one of the biggest private firms to provide services for the NHS, it has emerged.

The wife of John Nash, chairman of Care UK, whose portfolio includes numerous APMS practices and GP-led health centres across the country, gave £21,000 to Mr Lansley’s personal office in November.

The revelation comes just days after Pulse revealed that the Tories have opened talks with a series of private firms, after their manifesto pledged to increase the role of the independent sector in the NHS.

The party told Pulse talks were ongoing with ‘a wide range’ of providers as part of a drive to create a more competitive NHS marketplace, with sources close to Westminster disclosing that Care UK were among the firms talking to the Tories.

A spokesman for the Conservative party said: ‘We have been completely transparent about this donation. It has been properly registered with the parliamentary register as well as with the Electoral Commission and is therefore fully within the rules.

‘John Nash and his wife have a wide range of interests, of which Care UK is just one. This donation to support Mr Lansley’s office was made through Conservative Campaign Headquarters. Mr Lansley did not solicit this donation. Donations from private individuals in no way influence policy making decisions.’

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said the donation exposed the Tories’ conflict of interest on the NHS.

He said: ‘This is a staggering conflict of interest which completely undermines the Tories claim that the NHS would be safe in their hands. Many people will question Andrew Lansley’s judgement and the impact that these donations have on Conservative health policy.

‘With Labour in the pockets of the unions and the Tories taking money from private health firms, only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to run our NHS.’

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Mersey View Surgery & GP Led Walk-in Service

Posted on January 4, 2010. Filed under: GP-led health centres, Press/News Releases, Providers | Tags: , |

Care UK | accessed 4 January 2010


Mersey View Surgery & GP Led Walk-in Service is a facility commissioned by NHS Liverpool Primary Care Trust. The centre, operated by Care UK, a leading independent provider of health and social care services, is located within Everton Road Health Centre, 45 Everton Road, Liverpool.

The centre is open every day from 8am-8pm and offers a range of comprehensive services to registered patients and a walk-in service for the treatment of minor injuries and illnesses, without having to make an appointment.

Mersey View Surgery & GP Led Walk-in Service
45 Everton Road, L6 2EH.

Manager: Sue Hagan
Telephone: 0151 300 8232
Fax: 0151 263 7006

View Website

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Private provision of NHS services under threat

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, ISTC, News stories, Providers | Tags: , , , |

The Guardian | By Owen Bowcott | 2 December 2009

The government has reignited the political debate about private healthcare companies delivering NHS treatment.

Private companies could find they are not the preferred option for delivering NHS treatments. Photograph: Graham Turner

On a spotless hospital ward pensioners displaying fresh bandages were delighted their knees and hips had just been replaced by the NHS. The surgery had been as good as going private, they declared. Which was what, in fact, it was.

Their confusion was understandable. The sign at the door reads North East London NHS treatment centre. The unit may be based in the same complex as the local NHS King George hospital in Ilford, Essex, and free at the point of delivery, but it is an independent sector treatment centre (ISTC) – a commercial venture, with the surgery provided by private company Care UK.

The mix of private and public healthcare providers within the NHS means that it is hard to disentangle one sector from another. Senior consultants at the ISTC have contracts to work in both the adjoining hospital and the treatment centre; other staff are on loan from the NHS. No private patients are treated. Soon, medical students will be training in Care UK’s facilities.

Blairite triumph

The health market has been presented as a triumph of Blairite politics, enabling internal competition to spur on progress towards improved standards, say its supporters. The health secretary, Andy Burnham, this autumn endorsed that settlement, though, in almost the same breath, he inadvertently helped to destabilise it. “With quality at its core … the NHS can finally move beyond the polarising debates of the last decade over private or public sector provision,” he told health thinktank the King’s Fund – before adding: “Where I stand in this debate … is that the NHS is our preferred provider.”

Labour’s pronouncements since then on patients’ rights, and what is known as the “private patient cap” – the percentage of private treatments that hospitals are permitted to carry out – have set political compasses spinning. While the private/public divide has not been a significant battleground between Labour and the Conservatives in recent years, competitive tendering processes and residual ideological suspicions are now reviving the dormant row.

Burnham’s promise that the NHS should be the “preferred provider” has been interpreted by the private sector as a snub, and by health unions as a signal of Brownite support for traditional Labour values.

Few are clear what “preferred provider” means. The Department of Health attempted unsuccessfully last week to explain by asserting that: “Where existing NHS services are delivering a good standard of care for patients, there is no need to look to the market.” It then qualified the position, explaining that: “Where [NHS] primary care trusts are commissioning new services, then we expect them to engage with a range of potential providers before deciding whether to issue an open tender. These decisions will be made locally, and we will not choose to exclude either NHS or private providers on grounds of ideology – quality and what is best for patients must always come first. This could well mean more private provision, not less.”

Mike Parish, chief executive of Care UK, initially dismissed Burnham’s phrase as merely a political “rebalancing act”. Since then he has become more anxious about its impact. “People have taken that original good intention and presented it as something much more substantive,” he says. “Across primary care trusts there are people who are enthusiasts in terms of reform and others who are uncomfortable with any concept of plurality. This [statement] could take things in a direction that was never intended. There’s a risk of a runaway horse. We are already seeing tenders being issued for the redesign of services with the invitation going exclusively to NHS providers only. It not only constrains the options for PCTs and patients, it’s also certainly anti-competitive. I don’t know if it’s even permissible.”

Parish estimates that 6% of all NHS work is currently carried out by private firms including Spire Healthcare and UnitedHealth UK. Care UK runs a further nine ISTCs, urgent care centres in Luton, and healthcare services in Brixton prison. The company is considering bidding for what would be the first privately run NHS district general hospital at Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon. Parish fears the “preferred provider” publicity will blight his chances. He is proud of the firm’s very high patient satisfaction rates and its clinical record in the NHS of no cases of MRSA infections.

Landmark battle

Care UK has, however, just lost one landmark battle. Awarded the tender to provide a GP-led health centre by Camden PCT in north London, it had to abandon the contract last month when anti-privatisation campaigners won a judgment in the high court that forced the trust to go back and ask the public whether the area actually needs a GP-led health centre.

The government’s decision to review the private patient cap – while instructing Labour peers to vote down a proposal raising the minimum permissible level of private work to at least 1.5% of treatments in all NHS foundation trusts – has also helped to reignite the issue of private sector involvement in the NHS.

Sue Slipman, director of the NHS Foundation Trust Network, says trusts want to raise the cap, not in order to treat private patients but “because they want to go into joint ventures to bring in money to their hospitals and support expansion of NHS provisions”.

Burnham’s announcement that in future patients will be legally entitled to free private care if not treated by the NHS within 18 weeks has added a further twist to the debate. The British Medical Association is concerned that this will lead to more NHS work going to private providers, with destabilising effects on hard-pressed NHS services.

Back at the North East London treatment centre, the relieved patients were not perturbed about the origins of their free NHS surgery. Instead, they were looking forward to going home quickly.

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Camden PCT shelves plans to give contract to private company for new GP led health centre

Posted on November 26, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, Journals, Providers | Tags: |

British Medical Journal | By Clare Dyer | News | 26 November 2009

A primary care trust’s controversial decision to award a £20m [{euro}22m; $33m] contract for a GP led health centre in London to a private company has been put on hold after campaigners threatened legal action.

NHS Camden has now shelved its plan to give Care UK Ltd a contract to open the big health centre in Hampstead Road near Euston station and has agreed to consult the public on whether the centre should go ahead.

Tony Stanton, joint chief executive of the Londonwide LMCs (local medical committees), which represents NHS GPs and their practice teams in London, said, “There has been a lot of unhappiness about the way in which Camden PCT conducted the procurement process for their GP led health centre. The LMC is very pleased that there is to be a proper public consultation.”

Lawyers for Camden Keep Our NHS Public and the former Labour Camden councillor . . . [Full text of this article]

Published 26 November 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b5025
Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5025

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Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories | Tags: |

Camden New Journal | By Tom Foot | NHS Camden | 19 November 2009

PATIENTS are celebrating after plans to hand control of a new super-sized doctors’ surgery to a private company were dramatically put on hold.

Care UK had been due to run the new health centre in Euston but protesters argued the decision to bring in private operators ahead of neighbourhood GPs was taken without asking the public.

NHS Camden, the borough’s primary care trust, was threatened with a battle in the High Court and on Thursday changed its position and agreed to consult residents – a major victory for campaigners who oppose the new service because they believe it could force the closure of nearby surgeries.

The health authority had ignored advice from the former health minister Ben Bradshaw, local MP Frank Dobson, and criticism from the president of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Iona Heath, after naming Care UK Ltd as the preferred choice for the £20million centre without asking patients.

Critics feared that the new centre – planned for Stephenson House in Hampstead Road – would suck patients away from established surgeries in the south of the borough, all for the benefit of big companies.

Former Labour councillor Bob Austin and the Camden Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) pressure group had prepared a case for the Royal Courts of Justice over the lack of consultation and were ready for their day in court before NHS Camden wrote to their legal team, explaining its change of heart.

The U-turn, health campaigners claim, has set a precedent for save-the-NHS campaigns across the country in the battle to keep large private companies away from surgeries.

Camden KONP chairman Candy Udwin, who has organised dozens of meetings, a mass march through Camden Town, and raised costs for the legal challenge against the health centre proposals, said: “The threat of legal action has won the right for local people to be consulted over setting up this clinic. It shows what people power can do. We still have a big battle on our hands to stop more private companies taking over local doctor surgeries and to make sure we get the improvements to our NHS that we want.”

In a letter to the campaign’s legal team, NHS Camden’s lawyers confirmed: “The defendant will in due course carry out a fresh consultation on whether to pursue…a GP-led health centre in Camden and, if so, where it should be located and what services it should provide.”

Leigh Day & Co solicitor Rosa Curling, representing Mr Austin, said: “Our clients are pleased to note that despite constant denials, the PCT was not under a legal duty to consult, the PCT now accepts that it was at all times under such a legal obligation.”

Mr Dobson, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, added: “It is ridiculous it has taken a legal action to get this concession. It was a crackpot idea anyway and if there is a proper consultation I’m sure all doctors and patients will oppose it.”

The decision has thrown one of the government’s flagship healthcare reforms open to a series of similar challenges.

All primary care trusts have been instructed by the Department of Health to set up at least one of the new surgeries, known as “GP-led health centres”.

The policy has led to hundreds of millions of pounds of public money being earmarked for private contracts.
Doctors have criticised the centres fearing they will starve smaller neighbourhood surgeries of patients and force their closure.

To avoid that, GPs in south Camden formed a consortium to bid for the contract but, as the New Journal revealed in August, lost out to Care UK Ltd during a secretive tendering process.

Care UK boasts a former managing director of investment bank Merrill Lynch and a former chairman of the Venture Capitalist Association among its top directors.

NHS Camden chief executive Dr Mark Atkinson said last month he would “rigorously defend patients’ rights to the expansion of health services” in any legal case.

Instead of preparing for a visit to the High Court however, Dr Atkinson is now preparing the consultation programme.

That will include plans to open another clinic in West Hampstead, although because that centre is expected to be run by local doctors it is likely to gain support among north Camden patients.

Dr Atkinson said: “If the results show me that patients want expanded GP services in these two locations, then I will fast track the Stephenson House centre to get it opened as quickly as possible.”

Check-up – GP-led health centre guide

What is a GP-led health centre? 
A building with lots of doctors and nurses in it caring for thousands of unregistered patients with extended opening hours and providing lots of important services normally found in a hospital.

Sounds great, why are people complaining?
For the first time, profit-making private companies such as Care UK are being offered millions of pounds of public money to run your doctors’ surgeries. Opponents to the policy of allowing private operators to take over say health services should not be about making profits.

Who cares who gets paid as long as I can see a doctor for free? 
Private companies have a legal responsibility to boost profit for their shareholders. Critics believe companies running health services for profit on short-term contracts will be more interested in saving money than patient care. Doctors, campaigners argue, have chosen their profession because they care about the nation’s health and are not interested in company share prices.

Won’t a bit of healthy competition help? I’ve been waiting for an appointment with my local GP for weeks.
Protesters believe that market forces are not appropriate for driving up standards in the National Health Service. They say that research proves that small practices provide patients with good quality and personalised care – like old-fashioned family doctors. They also argue that larger health centres will lead to smaller surgeries – the ones that thousands of Camden residents are used to – being closed and all of the neighbourhood’s doctors being brought together under one roof.

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Camden victory casts doubt on legality of Darzi rollout

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories | Tags: |

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | NHS Camden | 17 November 2009

Exclusive: Legal challenge forces PCT to consult public and shelve plans to award contract to private firm

A PCT has been forced to shelve plans to award a Darzi centre contract to a private firm and ask patients if they want the new service, in a landmark case with major implications for the legality of the national rollout.

NHS Camden has admitted it acted unlawfully by ‘making a decision to invest’ in the Darzi centre without having conducted a public consultation on the proposal.

It has agreed to consult on whether it should pursue a GP-led health centre at all, following a legal battle with campaigners. The U-turn means it is unable to press ahead with plans to award the contract to private company Care UK.

The case threatens to undermine Government demands that every PCT should have one of the centres, with a series of others in which contracts have not yet been signed potentially now open to legal challenge.

The Conservatives said the case showed the Government had been wrong to force GP-led health centres on communities against their wishes.

Lawyers acting for antiprivatisation supporters brought plans by the PCT – which has one of the biggest involvements of the private sector in primary care in the NHS – grinding to a halt after threatening High Court action.

NHS Camden had announced in August that it planned to award its contract for the GP-led health centre to Care UK, which has won a string of contracts across the country.

But in documents seen by Pulse, lawyers for the PCT conceded on all but one of the claims over the proposed state-of-the-art Stephenson House health centre, which was due to open later this year.

In a letter to the legal firm representing the campaigners, led by former Camden councillor Bob Austin, the PCT’s lawyers said: ‘The defendant will in due course carry out a fresh consultation on whether to pursue… a GP-led health centre in Camden and, if so, where it should be located and what services it should provide.’

Rosa Curling, a solicitor for Leigh Day and Co, representing the campaigners, said: ‘Camden was trying to argue they didn’t need to consult on the principle, just the location and the services available. What we argued is they need to consult over whether a centre should open at all. It may be that other trusts are acting similarly, and we would say that’s unlawful. [NHS Camden] has agreed to concede the claim, so it starts again on the basis of whether there should be a centre.’

NHS Camden said it had decided to ‘seek the views of local residents again’ on two new health centres, including the one at Stephenson House.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said: ‘This highlights how political imperative has ridden roughshod over the need for a consultation process. There is scope in Camden to prevent yet another white elephant. Unfortunately, in most PCTs contracts have been signed, so the opportunity to challenge has passed.’

Tory shadow health minister Mark Simmonds told Pulse: ‘This case demonstrates the Government’s forced imposition of polyclinics was a mistake. We believe local primary care services should be developed in conjunction with patients, and would have allowed PCTs to use the additional resources to develop existing services if that would have been of greater benefit.’

Local MP Frank Dobson, a campaigner against privatisation, said: ‘It is farcical money is being spent on lawyers when it is as plain as a pikestaff they were in the wrong.’

The DH said it was up to PCTs to ‘demonstrate the benefits’ of the new centres.


• The trust was heavily criticised for awarding three local GP practices to US giant UnitedHealth in February 2008, despite a bid by local GPs being rated higher for services offered
• In July 2008 Pulse revealed Camden PCT was also one of two north London trusts that held secret talks with private providers including Virgin Healthcare about running the country’s first fully fledged polyclinic before the public had been consulted
• The trust announced it had awarded the contract for a GP-led health centre to Care UK in August this year
• Campaigners launched a legal challenge against the plan in October, claiming patients had not been consulted

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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.
Click here to find out more!

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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A health centre in Tesco’s car park?

Posted on October 18, 2009. Filed under: Providers | Tags: |

By Richard Baum | 18 October 2009

For reasons beyond my comprehension, the world doesn’t stand still when I’m on holiday. In fact, lots of things have gone on in Prestwich whilst I’ve been away.

One of them is that a Planning application has been lodged by Care UK for the siting of a mobile Health Clinic at Tesco for a period of seven years. Yes, that’s right. Someone wants to stick a clinic in Tesco’s car park, so that you can shop for an x-ray as you shop for your spuds.

Details are sketchy at present but presumably it will be one of those mobile testing clinics – where you can get your blood pressure checked out or perhaps have more serious matters checked/tested for problems. I’ve got no problem with these at all, but we have an NHS walk-in centre up the road, and there’s talk of a LIFT centre, which would be an even better local NHS facility. Why are the NHS now looking to pay the private sector to set up shop in a supermarket car park until 2016? We’ve got a credit crunch on, haven’t we?

And I wonder how much Tesco are getting out of this… Perhaps enough for them to re-instate the recycling facility they’ve just had removed from the very same car park?

All a bit worrying…


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Revealed: NHS secretly wooed private firms over polyclinics

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Polyclinics, Providers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pulse | By Steve Nowottny | 7 October 2009

Exclusive: The NHS secretly courted private companies at a series of high-level meetings to encourage them to compete for the new wave of polyclinics and GP-led health centres, Pulse can reveal.

Directors, chief executives and other senior figures from a who’s who of private health providers were invited to regular off-the-record briefings, held every six weeks, to get their advice on tendering and procurement of GP-led health centres and London’s polyclinics.

Details of the meetings, at which no minutes were taken, emerged only this week after Pulse successfully won a nine-month appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

Attendees included Atos Consulting, Assura Group, Care UK and Alliance Boots (see below).

The last in the series of meetings, which were hosted by NHS London and designed to reassure the private sector about the Government’s commitment to opening up the market, was attended by then-health minister Lord Darzi, as well as UBS Bank, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Dr David Bennett, whose former roles include head of policy at Number 10 and at influential management consultancy McKinsey.

Companies invited to the meetings subsequently bid for and won contracts for dozens of GP-led health centres around the country and have been among those bidding for London’s centres, although NHS London is refusing to reveal how many they have won.

But a briefing prepared for Lord Darzi ahead of the last meeting on 19 August 2008 reveals: ‘This group of private sector CEOs and senior officials meets roughly every six weeks… to discuss concerns of the private sector market in general but specifically issues relating to London polyclinics and how London is handling GP-led health centres.

‘It is now a forum for the market to offer opinions and advice in the run-up to tendering and procurement of primary care services through both models.’

The briefing adds that one function of the meetings is to ensure the NHS is aware of the confidence required to ensure City backing for any ‘ventures’ in primary care.

‘Lord Darzi will be aware the City has grown deeply sceptical about markets in health given the reversal of much of the wave two independent sector treatment centre procurement,’ the report adds.

LMCs responded angrily to news of the meetings, pointing out that GPs had not been invited to similar meetings.

Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: ‘We’ve had our suspicions but it confirms everything we thought must be going on. It stinks – it’s appalling.’

Dr Drage said Londonwide LMCs had found it impossible to organise meetings with NHS London at a similar level to the private sector briefings.

‘I’ve had one such meeting in the past year, with the chief executive,’ she said.

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of the GPC subcommittee on commissioning and service development, said: ‘To brief them like this is blatant and seems very strange when everyone is talking about level playing fields.’

And Dr Sally Whittet, a GP in Lambeth, south London, added: ‘This is wrong. It goes against my idea of the NHS.’

However a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The accusation that private companies were ‘secret wooed’ is simply untrue. We have repeatedly made clear that in setting up GP health centres PCTs are expected to carry out an open and transparent procurement to ensure the fullest range of providers can bid including existing GP practices, voluntary and independent sector providers.’

He added: ‘Lord Darzi spent a year working on his review of the NHS and engaged with over 60,000 people – the majority of whom were frontline NHS staff, patients and members of the public. However, given their interests in the future direction of the NHS this also included private sector healthcare providers.


• Alliance Boots
• Atos Consulting 
• Assura Group 
• Ashley House 
• Care UK
• General Healthcare Group 
• HCA International 
• Nuffield Hospitals 
• PWC 

The documents that revealed secret meetings between NHS and private sector

Pulse reveals today details of a series of high-level meetings held last year between senior figures in the NHS and leading private sector companies last year.

Read the Department of Health’s final response to Pulse here.

Read the briefing note prepared for Lord Darzi ahead of the meeting on 19 August 2008 here.

Read the full list of meeting attendees here.

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Top GP slams Camden NHS as ‘megalomaniac and misleading’

Posted on October 1, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Providers | Tags: , , |

Camden News | By Tom Foot | 1 October 2009

No evidence that for-profits surgeries policy is beneficial to patients, she says.

THE President of the Royal College of GPs has launched a stinging attack on Camden’s health chiefs for failing to listen to patients.

Dr Iona Heath, a partner at the Caversham Practice in Kentish Town, described NHS Camden as “megalomaniac” and branded its current consultation on the controversial GP-led health centre – a new super surgery planned for Euston – a “travesty”.

In her first article for the British Medical Journal since becoming the country’s GPs’ leader in June, Dr Heath said: “There has been no attempt to survey public opinion or the views of health professionals working in Camden in a way that could be considered statistically valid or defensible.”

Dr Heath is furious that NHS Camden has named private operators Care UK as its preferred bidder for the massive £20 million contract to run the health centre in Hampstead Road before the public had responded to the proposals.
She raised concerns over a recent trend in Camden of awarding major contracts to profit-making companies ahead of familiar local NHS practitioners.

Contracts to run three surgeries have been awarded to American health giant UnitedHealth and Camden’s specialist physiotherapy services will be run by the Northumberland-based firm Connect Physical Health

Camden’s community nursing service will also also be offered to private operators later this month.

Dr Heath said: “NHS Camden is the new name for Camden Primary Care Trust – a name that manages to be both misleading and megalomaniac. This most local outpost of the Department of Health seems ever more intent on awarding successive contracts to private for-profit companies despite mounting opposition from residents and health professionals and in the complete absence of evidence of benefit for patients.”

Dr Heath’s comments came as Camden’s branch of Keep Our NHS Public claimed a breakthrough in the Town Hall last Thursday.

The council’s health and scrutiny committee agreed to request further advice from Health Secretary Andy Burnham over NHS Camden’s efforts to seek the views of the public.

NHS Camden argues it does not need to consult patients on the GP-led health centre, which existing GP surgeries fear will take away their work. But a letter sent in March by then Health Secretary Ben Bradshaw to Liberal Democrat committee chairman Councillor John Bryant suggested the opposite.

If the minister confirms that consultation is required, the health scrutiny committee has the power to refer the whole process to the Secretary of State for a final decision.

Green councillor Alex Goodman said that NHS Camden should “in good faith” put all contract talks with private operators on pause until the Department of Health had decided it had acted properly.

Candy Udwin, chairman of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, added: “It’s good news for the campaign. At least it gives us a bit of breathing space.”

She said planned legal action against NHS Camden over the decision to hire Care UK has been suspended until the minister has given his verdict.

A NHS Camden spokesman said: “NHS Camden did not consult on the creation of the new GP practice at the GP-led health centre as this is a government directive that NHS Camden is obliged to follow. The additional services that will be housed in the centre are currently being consulted on.”

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‘Private health care will be bad for patients’

Posted on September 26, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories | Tags: |

Hackney Citizen | By Josh Loeb | City & Hackney PCT | 26 September 2009

Plans for private companies to run Hackney health services condemned.


Keep our NHS public supporters, Hackney

Keep our NHS public supporters, Hackney

PATIENTS are up in arms at plans to privatise a key part of Hackney’s health services.

Contracts to run two health centres have been put out to tender amid protests from patients and campaigners that they were not consulted over potential private sector bids.

A petition signed by 800 people – some patients of the practices in question – was presented toCity and Hackney Primary Care Trust (PCT) at its 11 September board meeting.

The petition, drafted by campaigning group Hackney Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), called for an end to the possible ‘sell-offs’ of health services, arguing that private companies would put the interests of shareholders ahead of patients.

The campaigners say the privatisation of services offered in the borough will lead to a lower quality of care.

They argue that private healthcare firms employ doctors on short-term contracts, damaging the patient – doctor relationship.
The contracts to run a new service at the Oldhill practice in Stamford Hill and a similar one at a yet-to-be-confirmed site in south eastern Hackney have been put out to tender in response to a government initiative.

At the packed PCT board meeting, which was held in public, local solicitor and KONP campaigner Wendy Pettifer said, “People don’t know the private tendering process is happening. The majority of residents would be against the private sector running health centres.”

Steve Gilvin, the PCT’s director of primary care consulting, replied that the PCT had carried out polling of patients – but he added that the type of provider was “not an issue for consultation”.

Sharon Patrick, the PCT’s non-executive director, said she had been contacted by Hackney LINk – a group that represents health service users – who told her it had not been informed the practices were up for grabs to private companies.

Camden KONP was left outraged recently after the contract to run a health centre in that borough was awarded to corporate giant CARE UK before the public consultation had ended. The group is now taking legal action.

One campaigner, Bronwen Handyside, told the Citizen, “We know there are 40 bids in and we know that CARE UK has put up bids all over the country for these kinds of services.”

PCT chief executive Jacqui Harvey said the Trust was obliged to allow companies to tender for the contracts. She said, “What matters to us most is having GPs deliver the best possible care to our residents.”

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Former healthcare firm’s managing director to lead PCT

Posted on September 9, 2009. Filed under: News stories | Tags: |

Healthcare Republic | By Neil Durham | 09 September 2009

A doctor and former managing director of Care UK’s healthcare division is to become chief executive of a Norfolk PCT in November.


Dr Sushil Jathanna

Dr Sushil Jathanna



Dr Sushil Jathanna, 52, replaces GP Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, interim chief executive at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, since the departure of Mike Stonard in May.

He began his medical career as a senior house officer before becoming a registrar in medicine for the elderly at West Norwich Hospital. He then specialised in public health medicine and went on to become the director of public health in Colchester and Tendring PCTs.

After working in the private sector for six years, leading Care UK’shealthcare division as managing director, Dr Jathanna was keen to rejoin the NHS because of his passion to serve the community.

Dr Jathanna is currently working as interim director of World Class Commissioning Transformation for NHS North East Essex.

He said: ‘The strong public service ethos of the NHS is something I admire. I want to bring my NHS background, which included the role of director of public health, as well as my private sector expertise into the trust at what is an interesting and challenging time across the NHS.’

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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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It’s Full Steam-Ahead for GP-Led Health Centre

Posted on August 26, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, Press/News Releases, Providers | Tags: |

Wandsworth PCT | Press Releases | 26 August 2009

Planning permission for the new GP-led health centre, scheduled to open in spring 2010, has been given the go ahead by Wandsworth Borough Council. Situated right next door to the Clapham Junction Station entrance, on Grant Road, this state of the art centre will be constructed in a very convenient location for people living in the Battersea and north Wandsworth, particularly its younger population, not registered with a GP or finding it difficult to fit appointments into their busy lifestyles.

A change of use planning application was submitted to the Council in May 2009, outlining proposals to redevelop five railway arches. Currently used as storage, over the next six to eight months this space spanning over 500 square metres, will be transformed into a contemporary, purpose built medical centre. 

With a wide range of services for both registered and unregistered patients, the centre operated by Care UK will open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, including all bank holidays. It will offer bookable and walk-in appointments, diagnostic testing and treatments for minor illnesses and injuries. It will also provide additional GP registration capacity in the area for up to 6,000 new patients.

Graham Mackenzie, Director of Commissioning, NHS Wandsworth said: “Based in the heart of a busy residential and commuter area, the new service could not have been placed in a better location. The GP led-health centre will significantly extend the healthcare options open to people living and working in Battersea and north Wandsworth. Not only complementing existing GP provision, including the 12 GP surgeries already offering increased opening hours in the area, the centre also allows us to provide the additional services local residents told us they wanted as part of their response to the Battersea and north Wandsworth consultation.” 

In May 2009, Care UK, who will be supported by AT Medics were awarded a five year contract to run the GP-led health centre. This contract will be reviewed regularly to ensure levels of patient satisfaction remain high and the provider consistently meets and maintains a range of targets, known as Key Performance Indicators (KPI). 

Working in close partnership with these two organisations means NHS Wandsworth and local residents will benefit from Care UK’s vast experience of setting up and running similar centres across the country, as well as AT Medics’ extensive clinical and healthcare knowledge of the south west London area.

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Walk-in and be seen

Posted on July 30, 2009. Filed under: Press/News Releases | Tags: , |


People who live and work in
Calderdale will now be able to access
GP services without an appointment.
Walk-in centres are being opened at
Horne Street Medical Centre, Halifax
and Todmorden Health Centre,
Todmorden. They will provide urgent
care for patients whose illness or
condition does not warrant a visit to
A&E, but does require quick medical
The two centres will open in April and
will be run from 8am – 8pm, seven
days a week, 365 days a year. Anyone
can use the walk-in services, including
residents who are already registered
with a GP practice elsewhere. The
service will be run by doctors and
nurses and will provide advice and
treatment for:

Calderdale & Huddersfield PCTs | Newsletter Issue 6 | Spring 2009

People who live and work in Calderdale will now be able to access GP services without an appointment.

Walk-in centres are being opened at Horne Street Medical Centre, Halifax and Todmorden Health Centre, Todmorden. They will provide urgent care for patients whose illness or condition does not warrant a visit to A&E, but does require quick medical attention.

The two centres will open in April and will be run from 8am – 8pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Anyone can use the walk-in services, including residents who are already registered with a GP practice elsewhere. The service will be run by doctors and nurses and will provide advice and treatment for:

  • Family planning e.g. contraceptive advice
  • Coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms
  • Minor cuts and wounds – dressings and care
  • Muscle and joint injuries – strains and sprains
  • Skin complaints – rashes, sunburn and headlice
  • Stomach ache, indigestion, constipation, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The new centres will be operated by Care UK, an independent provider, who will also run new GP practices procured as part of Practice Plus.

These new services will provide additional support for those communities who need it most and will make inroads into reducing health inequalities.

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More GPs for Calderdale – Practice Plus

Posted on July 30, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, Press/News Releases | Tags: , |

Calderdale & Huddersfield PCTs | Newsletter Issue 6 | Spring 2009

Calderdale’s PracticePlus programme has resulted in Care UK being appointed as the preferred provider after an open competition. The programme will bring more GPs to Calderdale, improve access to services for people in the Borough and pave the way for reductions in health inequalities.

Care UK will be providing GP-led health services for up to 9,000 patients in Todmorden and West Central Halifax, as well as two walk-in services opening in the spring.

Care UK will now be working with NHS Calderdale over the next three months to appoint up to three providers to deliver GP led services for an additional 9,000 patients in North Halifax, Sowerby Bridge and Elland.

Chief Executive of NHS Calderdale, Rob Webster, said: “I look forward to working with Care UK to appoint new partners to deliver more surgeries in North Halifax, Sowerby Bridge and Elland. We will be seeking to support all practices to ensure they have the opportunity to develop high quality services and public health initiatives for their patients. “

In 2008 Calderdale was identified by the Department of Health as one of the ‘least well’ served districts for GPs in the country.

“Practice Plus” is about buying more GP services for those residents who most need them and reducing workload in other practices in Calderdale.

Care UK is one of the UK’s leading providers of health and social care services. They have a strong record of partnership working with the NHS. Care UK run a number of GP practices, NHS walk-in centres, nursing homes and homecare services together with specialist services for children and people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

programme has resulted in Care UK
being appointed as the preferred
provider after an open
competition. The programme will
bring more GPs to Calderdale,
improve access to services for
people in the Borough and pave
the way for reductions in health
inequalities. Care UK will be
providing GP-led health services for
up to 9,000 patients in Todmorden
and West Central Halifax, as well as
two walk-in services opening in the
Care UK will now be working with
NHS Calderdale over the next three
months to appoint up to three
providers to deliver GP led services
for an additional 9,000 patients in
North Halifax, Sowerby Bridge and
Chief Executive of NHS Calderdale,
Rob Webster, said: “I look forward
to working with Care UK to
appoint new partners to deliver
more surgeries in North Halifax,
Sowerby Bridge and Elland. We will
be seeking to support all practices
to ensure they have the
opportunity to develop high
quality services and public health
initiatives for their patients. “
In 2008 Calderdale was identified
by the Department of Health as
one of the ‘least well’ served
districts for GPs in the country.
“Practice Plus” is about buying
more GP services for those residents
who most need them and reducing
workload in other practices in
Care UK is one of the UK’s leading
providers of health and social care
services. They have a strong record
of partnership working with the
NHS. Care UK run a number of GP
practices, NHS walk-in centres,
nursing homes and homecare
services together with specialist
services for children and people
with mental health problems and
learning disabilities.
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