Search

Camden GPs criticise Harmoni’s ‘unprofitable’ out-of-hours service

PUBLISHED: 14:19 17 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 18 October 2013

Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee Cllr John Bryant criticised a 'culture of secrecy' in the NHS

Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee Cllr John Bryant criticised a 'culture of secrecy' in the NHS

Archant

A group of Camden GPs has strongly criticised private healthcare provider Harmoni after the company admitted it is yet to make its out-of-hours GP service in the borough profitable.

Representatives from Harmoni said the contract it won in 2010 after promising to deliver the service at a cheaper cost than rival bidders – including a local GP consortium – had not been making the company money. The admission came as Harmoni gave evidence to Camden Council’s health scrutiny panel on Monday.

David Tee, Harmoni’s regional director, said: “Nobody goes into the out-of-hours market to make a profit – it’s just not a profit-making bit of the health economy.

“The market is very challenging and you will have seen a number of smaller providers going under. Particularly with the 111 service coming in you’ve got a different mix of patients coming through and a very different set of numbers in your accounts.”

Haverstock Health, which is owned and run by 26 NHS GP practices in the borough – and lost out to Harmoni when the bid was awarded – said the admission raised serious questions about the bidding process.

The group’s chief executive, Dr Michael Smith, said: “It’s no surprise. We, along with other bidders, were not able to work out how they could provide the service needed at the cost they bid.

“It continues to raise serious questions of how they can maintain a quality service at that price.”

The group says it hopes the latest admission will mean commissioners will place “more emphasis on quality of care rather than price” when the contract is up for renewal in 2015.

Committee chairman Cllr John Bryant told Harmoni: “You won the contract not on quality, but on price. You’ve described how the service is a loss-leader.

“If you submitted a realistic price to cover the costs that you’re now incurring you may also have risen on your quality thresholds as well.

“From our perspective, that would be better because it’s quality that we’re more concerned about rather than price.”

A Harmoni spokesman said later: “What we told the committee was that any provider of urgent care, whether from the independent sector or other parts of the NHS, can at best make only a small surplus on any contract. We did not say that Harmoni makes an operating loss on the provision of the contract in Camden.

“We were awarded the contract in an open and transparent NHS process which weighted quality twice as strongly as price.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

15:46

With Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe expecting to spend her third Christmas in Evin prison, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt used a visit to Iran to slam the middle-eastern nation’s imprisonment of UK dual nationals including the West Hampstead mum.

15:28

Police want the public’s help to identify a man wanted over two Golders Green burglaries.

12:08

Dawn Barnes will be looking to upset the odds as she has been reselected as Lib Dem candidate for the Hornsey and Wood Green seat.

10:23

Eastenders actor and Celebrity Masterchef winner John Partridge will be switching on the Archway Christmas lights.

09:29

Hampstead’s Lisa Deaner, 54, has been shortlisted for an Anthony Nolan Supporters award by the blood cancer charity.

07:00

Save Swiss Cottage is crowdfunding for a judicial review into Camden Council’s decision to approve the Construction Management Plan (CMP) for 100 Avenue Road last week.

Yesterday, 16:55

A workshop owner who engraves benches on Hampstead Heath was forced to break in to his own business to retrieve machinery after the landlord changed the locks and evicted him over unpaid rent.

Yesterday, 14:00

Champagne corks were popped on Saturday as the well-known former Blustons clothes store in Kentish Town has been re-opened as a vintage charity shop.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now