An investigation by BBC’s Panorama, including using an undercover journalist to work as a GP receptionist, has found that Operose, the UK’s biggest chain of GP surgeries, has let less-qualified Patient Associates (PA) see patients without adequate supervision leading to claims that the company is putting profits before care quality.
There are also reports from admin staff that some correspondence has not been processed and has waited to be seen by a GP or pharmacist for up to six months.
Operose, owned by the giant US healthcare insurer Centene, built its GP surgery business through the acquisition of first The Practice plc in 2016, with 20 GP surgeries, one urgent treatment centre, and some other community ophthalmology services around England, and then London-based AT Medics in early 2021, which gave the company an additional 49 surgeries in London. The company now has over 600,000 NHS patients on its lists at 69 surgeries.
The Panorama investigation, which was shown on the BBC the evening of 13 June, sent an undercover journalist to work as a receptionist at one of the company’s 51 London GP surgeries. It was at this surgery that a GP said they were short of eight doctors and the practice manager said they hired the less qualified PAs because they were “cheaper” than GPs.
Full story in The Lowdown, 14 June 2022