• BMA has “serious concerns” about local GP groups losing out on GP access contracts
  • CCGs must procure extended GP access services
  • NHS England said it encourages practices to form organisations “capable” of bidding for service contracts

The British Medical Association has expressed “significant concern” about “local GP-led groups” missing out on new contracts around the country to provide additional GP appointments.

NHS England policy requires additional GP access schemes to cover half the country by the end of 2017-18 and all of it by the end of 2018-19.

CCGs are required to procure these services and HSJ has been told that contract requirements will make it difficult for many networks or groups of conventional GP partnerships to win contracts.

HSJ has reported that Camden CCG awarded a £1.5m contract for extended GP access services to AT Medics, a London-wide GP-led provider company, over the federation of Camden GPs. South Worcestershire and Herefordshire CCGs have also begun procurement processes for contracts in excess of £1m for their extended GP services.

Responding to this concern, NHS England said: “We encourage practices to come together to form organisations capable of bidding for and delivering a range of services which act as a stepping stone in the development of new business models for new models of care.”

It said it encouraged CCGs to use alternative provider medical services (APMS) contracts – which mean they are open to organisations which are not GP partnerships, including private firms or NHS trusts – to procure the extended access services. It said this was due to “the limitations on eligibility for PMS and GMS [contracts] which could restrict potential providers and also because those contracts are either unlimited in term or do not provide flexibility”.

BMA General Practitioners Committee chair Chaand Nagpaul told HSJ: “Many GP practices are already working in groups to deliver this scheme and because of the nature of the challenges involved it wouldn’t be expected for individual practices to take on this project.

“This is why the BMA has ensured that there is no contractual requirement for practices to undertake extended access contracts.

“However, we have serious concerns about the competition agenda, enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act, which would mean local GP-led groups that want to provide this service to their patients are not successful in being award[ed] the contract to do so.

“We remain concerned that our health service could be undermined as the NHS fragments into different providers in a climate where profit becomes more of an imperative than what is the best for patient care.”