‘Victory for health campaigners’ as out-of-hour GP care taken from ‘tax-haven company’

Camden KONP lobbying the council. Candy Udwin and John Lipetz of KONP are at the front

Camden KONP lobbying the council. Candy Udwin and John Lipetz of KONP are at the front - Credit: Archant

Camden health campaigners are celebrating after north London out-of-hours GP services are given to a not-for-profit provider and taken from a “tax-haven” company.

Chair of the Camden Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) campaign group, Candy Udwin, said: “This is an important victory for health campaigners. We have been fighting a long and bitter battle to stop the private company Care UK taking over the service for the next five years.”

Ms Udwin’s comments come as the contract to run the GP out-of-hours service in Barnet, Camden, Haringey, Islington and Enfield has been awarded to London Central and West Unscheduled Care Collaborative (LCW) - a GP-led not-for-profit organisation.

The previous company, Care UK, is one of the biggest private healthcare companies in the UK. Last year an undercover ITV documentary criticised its services and centres in north London.

Ms Udwin added: “It is good news that Care UK has lost the contract. Care UK is owned by a secretive private equity company based in a tax haven, exactly the sort of company criticised this week for avoiding paying taxes and hiding its true ownership.

“Such companies have no part in publicly funded and publicly run health service.”

LCW already provides the NHS 111 service for residents who need medical help but are not in a life-threatening situation.

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Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) hope that having the same company run both services will enable a more streamlined model of care for patients.

Dr Sam Shah, clinical programme lead for North Central London said: “LCW has experience of delivering high quality services both locally and in other parts of London. They have demonstrated an understanding of the local health needs of our diverse populations.

“We want to improve patient experience of using and accessing urgent care services in North Central London, making sure our population receives optimal care from the right person, in the right location.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those local residents, stakeholders and clinicians who took the time to give their views and feedback during the engagement process. Your valuable contribution has helped shape this integrated service and confirms our commitment to ensuring that patients are at the heart of the services we commission.”

The five year contract for this integrated urgent care service will commence from 1 October 2016.