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Death forces out-of-hours GP services firm takeover

11 February 10 19:36 GMT

An out-of-hours medical care firm that hired a doctor who killed a patient with a painkiller overdose is set to be taken over, the BBC has discovered.

A rival is taking a "controlling interest" in Take Care Now, which was criticised over David Gray's death.

The company has already signed a "heads of agreement" with Harmoni HS, which is expected to take over within weeks.

If negotiations are successful, 800,000 people in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk will get a new out-of-hours GP service.

Take Care Now was heavily criticised by the NHS and in parliament after a Cambridgeshire coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing on Mr Gray, a patient given a morphine overdose by German locum, Dr Daniel Ubani.

Its out-of-hours contract in Cambridgeshire has already been taken away and its service in Suffolk is about to be ended.

It has also been announced its contract in Worcestershire will be axed.

'Strong leadership'

Harmoni is also talking to South West Essex and Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCTs, about taking over their out of hours contracts.

David Cox, chief executive of Take Care Now, said: "The future of the company and its staff is best placed within a larger organisation.

"Harmoni is a key operator in the delivery of healthcare services to the NHS in England."

Harmoni already has 7m patients and its medical director Dr Tony Snell said: "We believe that Harmoni will be able to provide strong business management and leadership, safe systems and processes based on our experience elsewhere.

"It offers the right level of support to enable them to deliver the best quality service possible for local people.''

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