A GP practice is fighting a primary care trust, claiming it stopped its planned branch surgery because it would compete with another new practice.

Charles Alessi of the Churchill practice in Kingston, Surrey, says the PCT is restricting choice. The practice had been providing a caretaker service since last year after two small surgeries closed down nearby.

Dr Alessi said he approached Kingston PCT chief executive David Smith with a proposal for a self-funded branch surgery last December. Meanwhile, the PCT began a tender process for the vacant practice. The practice leased a shop and won planning permission, unopposed by the PCT, to convert it into a surgery.

Successful tender

But five months later, the GPs say they received a letter from Mr Smith informing them they did not have permission to open the new facilities because the PCT wished to prevent competition with whoever was successful in the tender process.

Dr Alessi said: "Apart from being totally against the key NHS principles of choice and wider provision of services by a range of providers, we consider this action to be clearly anti-competitive."

A PCT spokeswoman said there were inaccuracies in the Churchill account. She added: "We are encouraging the practice to engage with us and to seek local resolution as the first stage of the process, in line with strategic health authority guidance. To date we have not received a formal request from the practice to commence local resolution."

She said the practice had received guidance from the SHA on competition issues.