COMMERCIAL: NHS North of Tyne is facing angry opposition to its decision to award the contract for running a GP practice to private provider Care UK.

One GP has resigned from Grainger Medical Group in Newcastle upon Tyne while another group of local GPs wrote an open letter to a local newspaper raising concern that the firm’s main aim was to make to profit. Keep Our NHS Public North East held a protest outside the practice on Monday.

Care UK, which took over Grainger and its branch surgery Elswick Health Centre on 1 September, runs 12 GP practices around the country and is hoping to make further inroads into the sector.

The practice was previously run by the primary care trust which had to cease providing the service and put its management out to tender under the terms of the transforming community services policy.

GPs working at the practice were unsuccessful in their bid to take over the practice.

A Care UK spokesman said: “We would never consider for one moment putting profitability above our duty of patient care. We were chosen to run the practice after an open, transparent and fair process run by the local NHS.”

The same procurement process saw a contract to run a practice in Shiremoor awarded to Freeman Clinics Ltd – a partnership between Newcastle Upon Tyne Foundation Trust and local GPs.