‘Privatisation’ of out-of-hours GP service

Your report on the potential plans to tender out GP out-of-hours services was timely.

The “statutory duty to ensure we receive value for money” mentioned in the local Clinical Commissioning Group’s statement is a cover for the privatisation Labour fought against when debating the Tories’ Health and Social Care bill two years ago (along with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing). Sadly, the bill was passed with the help of the Liberal Democrats, with only minor amendments.

Now chickens are coming home to roost and the local service provided by East Lancashire Medical Services will have to tender against the private providers. People’s views in the consultation will, of course, be taken into consideration. But how much will they count against the financial muscle of companies like Harmoni, already the largest provider of out-of-hours services in the country?

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When Pendle Labour Party held a public meeting at the ACE Centre on this legislation in 2012, I was pleased to hear Dr Ions, Chair of the CCG, express his opposition to “out and out privatisation”. Will his statutory duties allow him and his colleagues to oppose it?

Robert Oliver