Private group stopped from running St Paul’s Way Medical Centre - seven years before contract ends

A private healthcare company brought in to overhaul a failing East End medical centre has had its contract ended seven years early.

Atos Healthcare won the bid in 2008 to run St Paul’s Way Medical Centre as part of a 10-year deal.

The centre had been plagued with complaints about service and access to appointments.

The takeover caused a storm among health campaigners at the time, with many arguing the company knew nothing of the complex needs of the area.

NHS Tower Hamlets said the contract ended last month because the practice failed to meet the new targets set.

Jane Milligan, director of NHS East London and The City’s Tower Hamlets branch, said: “The practice was struggling to deliver the required improvements, particularly around access to appointments.

“Atos was competitive on price and in line with our modelling at the time, but throughout their application and presentation Atos provided consistent and clear evidence that they would provide a more accessible service.”

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It said the decision to terminate the contract on March 31 was jointly made with Atos.

But some have accused the trust of cost-cutting in choosing the private firm in the first place.

GP Dr Jonathon Tomlinson told healthcare website GP online, Atos put in the “cheapest bid” despite having “little understanding of the local area”.

St Paul’s Way is a large practice with more than 10,000 patients on its books.

It also serves a deprived area with many patients not having English as a first language.Past complaints have been about quality of care, difficulty in getting seen, and rudeness from staff.

Until a permanent solution is found, the practice will be jointly managed by the Mile End East and Bromley-by-Bow network. An Atos spokesman said: “Atos Healthcare now focuses on occupational health and disability analysis, an area in which it is a leader in the UK.”