Privatising General Practice

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Three general practices in Bucks have been taken over by private companies. Mandeville Surgery in Aylesbury and Chiltern House Medical Centre in Wycombe are run by Primary Care Management Solutions. Prospect House in Great Missenden is run by Operose Health, part of Centene Corporation, a huge US based health care company. Operose now manages 69 surgeries (many are in London) and is the largest GP surgery network in England. Private companies are awarded special contracts (APMS) to run GP surgeries which are short-term but generally more lucrative than those available to traditional GP partnerships.  These contracts are meant to increase choice and competition, but they also increase fragmentation and reduce quality of care. To date private companies have struggled to make general practice contracts profitable. Many of their surgeries have failed to recruit a permanent workforce of GPs and this is probably one of the main reasons why there have been complaints about the poor care offered. Is Operose’s strategy to build up a large base of practices so it becomes too big to fail and can demand more money from the NHS? It certainly looks like the Tories are letting big American health corporations into NHS primary care by the back door. And now the former CEO of Operose, Samantha Jones, a former NHS Manager, has just moved to a post in the No. 10 policy unit as expert adviser for NHS transformation and social care delivery.

Meanwhile in Valencia, Spain a health care company 90% owned by Centene (Ribera Salud) has been accused of fraud, including overcharging, and issues with sub-contracting.

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