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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