Nurses raise concerns about commissioners’ private company links
20 October, 2011 | By Crispin Dowler
Nurses have raised concerns about a second group of GP commissioners in the north of England with links to a private company seeking to provide NHS services.
Three members of the clinical commissioning group for County Durham and Darlington belong to practices involved in joint ventures with Assura Medical, according to the Royal College of nursing Northern region.
CCG members Alison McNaughton Jones and Andrea Jones both belonged to partners in Assura Darlington, and Kate Bidwell was a member of Assura Derwentside, the RCN said.
The union raised concerns because musculo-skeletal services for primary care trust NHS County Durham and Darlington are being transferred to Assura Medical.
RCN Northern region director Glenn Turp said: “The RCN Northern region believes that it is completely inappropriate that private companies can have a vested interest in both the commissioning and provision of NHS services.”
A spokesperson for NHS County Durham and Darlington said due process had been followed in awarding the musculo-skeletal services contract to Assura.
Last month Wirral GP commissioning Consortium awarded a place on a register of “any qualified providers” to Peninsula Health Limited Liability Partnership, another Assura joint venture with links to most of the GP practices on the group’s board.
A spokesman for PCT cluster NHS Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral said no consortium member whose practice is part of Peninsula was involved in the selection of the providers.
An Assura Medical spokesman said: “If a CCG member is to make a decision about a service provided by Assura Medical when they have a vested financial interest they would be required to absent themselves from any decision-making process.”