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Calls for inquiry into NHS appointment of Camden’s private out of hours GP provider Harmoni

PUBLISHED: 14:00 31 May 2013 | UPDATED: 15:04 31 May 2013

Candy Udwin, of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, has called for a public inquiry into the appointment of private out-of-hours GP provider Harmoni. Picture: Dieter Perry

Candy Udwin, of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, has called for a public inquiry into the appointment of private out-of-hours GP provider Harmoni. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Campaigners have called for a public inquiry into the appointment of the private healthcare firm that provides out-of-hours GP services in Camden.

A full investigation into why NHS North Central London awarded the contract to private firm Harmoni over rivals Haverstock Health – a consortium of local doctors based in Kentish Town – has been demanded by Camden Keep Our NHS Public (KONP).

The call was prompted by the publication of a critical health watchdog report which found there were “not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs” at Harmoni’s North Central London service.

But the Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has taken over from NHS North Central London, last week stood firm, defending the procurement process and saying Harmoni exceeded all its evaluation thresholds.

Candy Udwin, chairwoman of Camden KONP, said Haverstock Health “knew the area and were better suited to answering emergency night-time calls from local patients” than Harmoni, yet its bid had been rejected.

She added: “Haverstock Health not only had extensive local knowledge, they already also ran urgent care centres at the Royal Free and University College hospitals.

“We are calling for a proper public inquiry into how this contract was awarded to a private company that has made such a mess of operating the out-of-hours service.”

But a spokesman for Camden CCG said its predecessor undertook a full “procurement process” to award the contract, which included “a scoring system that gave a strong emphasis to quality, ranking it as twice as important as the finance aspect”.

It said a panel of healthcare professionals assessed all bids and Harmoni “scored the highest overall when both quality and value for money were combined”.

A spokesman for Harmoni, said: “Harmoni is working closely with commissioners to improve those areas of the service where already safe performance needs to be improved to meet the very high levels of patient experience set out in the Department of Health’s national standards.”

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