'Fairness in primary care procurement' programme

In April 2007, the Department of Health issued a call for expressions of interest to provide a range of primary care, enhanced primary care, diagnostic and minor surgery services as part of the 'fairness in primary care procurement' (FPCP) programme.

The motive was partly to increase competition within primary care, as well as providing services where local provision was poor.

The four primary care trusts (PCTs) involved were County Durham PCT, Greater Yarmouth and Waveney PCT, Hartlepool PCT and Nottinghamshire County Teaching PCT.

Expressions of interest were invited from a range of providers including social enterprises and third sector organisations.

The programme was expanded to include additional PCT areas.

In 2008, the Department of Health launched the Equitable Access to Primary Medical Care (EAPMC) programme, which provided investment of £250m to support PCTs in establishing at least 100 new general practices in the 25% of PCTs with the poorest provision and at least one GP-led health centre in each PCT.

Research suggested that 10 PCTs participated in FPCP, with most procuring a single new practice. A total of 112 new practices in 50 PCTs were procured under EAPMC. Successful bidders under the contracts included private companies, social enterprises, other mutual organisations, groups of existing GPs and other NHS providers.


Department of Health.
Calls for expressions of interest for the provision of NHS primary medical care and related services.
Department of Health; 2007.

Department of Health.
Commercial strategy, framework and provisions; guidance for PCTs.
Department of Health; 2008.

Coleman A, McDermott I, Checkland K, Harrison S.
Alternative providers of primary care in the English National Health Service; a study of commissioning, organisation and operation.
National Primary Care Research and Development Centre; 2011.