It has been claimed that GP practices could be partially floated on the stock market as part of the planned NHS reforms.
From 2013, GP consortia will be able to delegate funds of £80bn in order to commission healthcare. The changes come under the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently going through parliament.
But documents have revealed that the private health company IHP has proposed that the budget be passed to a private company in which a 20% stake would be owned by family doctors.
The plans, which were obtained by Channel 4 News and given to the Guardian, show that IHP is consulting with three GP consortia to establish a company that would turn underspends in the yearly budget into profits, in effect making savings on patient spending.
Patients would be treated by this company, which plans to list on the stock market in three to five years, at 95% of the cost of the NHS. The assumed profit – £40 a patient – would then be noted as 'profit'.
Oliver Bernath, IHP's founder who now works at management consultant McKinsey, told the Guardian that to work it would need 1,000 GPs to sign up and cover at least 2 million patients.