IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

It’s just the advance party

26 February, 2021

Make your voices heard on this matter by contacting the chair of the CCG, who is also an Islington GP – mail josephine.sauvage@nhs.net

• I WRITE to express my disappointment in the actions of the new combined five-borough CCG, clinical commissioning group, and how they have handled the issue of the private sector firm AT Medics Ltd, which has contracts to run eight primary care practices, four in Camden and two each in Islington and Haringey

These contracts are awarded when a normal GP practice, operated and run by the GP partners, cannot continue, usually on the retirement of the existing partners. AT Medics was run by six doctors and across London as a whole they have contracts for 49 practices.

The law requires holders of these contracts to get permission in advance from the commissioner – North Central London CCG in this case – if there is going to be a change in control of the company which holds the contract.

AT Medics Ltd failed to get permission in advance of selling their company to a subsidiary of the giant American health care company Centene.

It is rumoured that they sold the company, whose only significant assets were its contracts with the NHS, for £140million.

The practices have run reasonably well under AT Medics, but it is extremely unlikely that the commissioners would have contracted with Centene, which has no local knowledge and a reputation from its work in the USA of cutting corners and sharp practice.

For example, one of its subsidiaries has been fined $1.5million in the USA for its actions and inactions under the Obamacare programme. And yet it looks as though NCL CCG will not use their legal powers to put these contracts up for tender again.

They are under strong pressure from top management in NHS England not to do that, and it looks as though they are caving in.

The executive lead members from all five boroughs are up in arms, and have expressed their opposition to allowing Centene to take over, and you would have thought that a body dominated by GPs would prioritise responding to local opinion rather than complying with orders from above.

NHS England’s “advice” has been dressed up in a legal opinion but, as everyone knows, the answer you get from solicitors very much depends on how you ask the question.

The government clearly wish this transfer of contracts to Centene to go through. As we know, they are very keen to get a free trade agreement with the USA, and increasing the scope for companies like Centene to access the NHS budget is a big part of what the UK has to offer. So this is just the advance party.

Make your voices heard on this matter by contacting the chair of the CCG, who is also an Islington GP – mail josephine.sauvage@nhs.net

PROFESSOR SUE RICHARDS

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