The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

‘No guarantees’ for GPs and NHS staff

    Liz Wise

    Medic jobs could go after private firm wins contract

    Published: 05 August, 2010
    by TOM FOOT

    HUNDREDS of GPs and NHS staff have been warned their jobs are on the line after Camden’s out-of-hours doctors contract was torn-up and awarded to a private firm.

    Camidoc, a consortium of local doctors providing care across Camden when surgeries are closed, has been dumped amid concerns over its “ability to manage its finances”.

    Doctors have rushed to the defence of the not-for-profit “clinicians on call” service, arguing it has not been properly funded under the terms of a new deal agreed with health bosses in March.

    Hertfordshire-based Harmoni Ltd – one of the fastest growing health firms in the country – is expected to run the service on a nine-month temporary contract from October 1.

    A leaked memo from Camidoc’s interim chief executive James Hood to staff said: “The reasons given boil down to their [NHS Camden] loss of confidence in Camidoc’s ability to manage its finances – they were very clear that there are no concerns about either the quality or the safety of our services.”

    The New Journal understands Camidoc ran into the red after demand for the service rocketed by 30 per cent.

    Harmoni, which is registered with Companies House as a “private health company”, has won contracts to run health centres and polyclinics across the country. Its annual turnover grew from £3.5m in 2005 to £73m last year.

    Camidoc is hired by four north London Primary Care Trusts, including Camden, Islington, Haringey and Hackney, but Mr Hood’s memo said it no longer had their full support.

    Dr Steve Amiel, a partner at Caversham Practice in Kentish Town, said: “What this shows is that you cannot provide out-of-hours care at the price the PCT is asking. This sort of thing is going to happen time and time again in the NHS market the coalition government is so persistently driving forward. It is survival of the fittest. Organisations are being driven into insolvency at the expense of patient care. There is going to be chaos in October.”

    Celebrated for its not-for-profit ideals and commitment to using local doctors and fewer nurses, NHS campaigners have fought for Camidoc to run Camden’s out-of-hours service since its inception in 1999.

    On March 25 this year, NHS Camden acting chief executive Liz Wise said: “I am pleased to be able to announce today that Camidoc be awarded the contract”, adding: “In awarding the out-of-hours contract to Camidoc we will ensure the continuity and high standard of service that I know local people value.”

    In fact, Mr Hood’s memo said NHS Camden had not signed the contract leaving them in the clear to cancel the deal. 

    His message said: “I realise that for most of you this may come as an unpleasant shock, and many of you will now be very worried about your jobs. I cannot give anyone any guarantees, but I will say there are that no one is saying these services should no longer run.”

    Candy Udwin, from Keep Our NHS Public, said: “This is exactly the kind of thing this government wants – for more private companies to take control of chunks of the NHS. If we don’t make a stand there will be more.”

    A NHS Camden spokeswoman said:  “The Out of Hours Consortium (NHS Camden, NHS Islington, NHS Haringey and NHS City and Hackney), can confirm that a new contract with Camidoc, to provide a GP Out-Of-Hours service on behalf of the Consortium will not be going ahead. The decision was based on issues around the ongoing financial viability of Camidoc and the proposed changes in government policy.”

    Comments

    All GPs are running a business

    The locally run OOH service may well be described as 'not for profit' but neither has it been running altruistically as the emphasis on renumeration makes clear. The Caversham and other surgeries run as a business and the cimmunity needs to be as aware that this is the case for all involved in providing their services.

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