Operose: Addressing 'understandable' concerns over GP takeover


Operose Health is the new owner of six surgeries in Newham including E16 Health in Pontoon Dock which opened on February 22. - Credit: NEL CSU

A group of GP surgeries, including some in Newham, has been bought by a company which is owned by a US insurance firm Centene.

This has given rise to a good deal of – understandable – concern. I recently met with two of the doctors involved to find out what it might mean.

The GP practices had all been run by AT Medics, a UK firm set up by GPs in 2004. The general view is that it has done a good job – taking over one Newham practice in poor shape, for example, and dramatically improving it.

AT Medics has now been bought by Operose, a UK subsidary of Centene.

MP Stephen Timms says the support from groups during the pandemic has been crucial.

MP Stephen Timms says household overcrowding has made it harder to weather the pandemic - Credit: Archant

The change in control had to be approved by the NHS. An exercise was undertaken by the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of London as a whole, and it found no reasons to object.

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Our local commissioners gave their approval in December. They say that, to object, they would have had to come up with a reason for doing so and there wasn’t one.

One worry has been over reports that all the directors of AT Medics have resigned.

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The doctors I spoke to – both directors of AT Medics – explained that they are no longer company directors because the board of Operose is now in charge. But they said their jobs have not changed. The former directors are in their 40s, and none of them plan to leave.

They also said there were no plans to cut any staff, or to change the terms and conditions of any of the existing staff. When vacancies arise, they plan to recruit new staff from the local area.

Many will be watching closely how this develops. We agreed to hold a meeting with local councillors next month.

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