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The Chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee has written to all GPs in England setting out the Committee’s opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, amid fears about the wide-ranging impact the Government’s reforms will have on GPs’ working practices and their relationship with patients

Dr Laurence Buckman warns GPs that “over time, it has become clear that this is the most top-down reorganisation the NHS has seen since its inception” and that, despite what the Government says, “the ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish” under the Health and Social Care Bill.

The concerns set out by Dr Buckman in the letter include:


  • Ordinary GPs within Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) not having the ability to improve the health service - a key plank of the original proposals - as CCGs are forced to develop into ever larger and more remote units in order to be approved by the NHS Commissioning Board
  • Pressure to adhere to an unrealistic timetable for approval, known as “authorisation”, forcing GPs to make decisions about the running of their local health service which they might not make if they had more time
  • CCGs becoming the vehicles for turning the NHS into a competitive marketplace where services have to compete for their business and where patient care becomes increasingly fragmented
  • The potential for commissioning to be controlled not by clinicians but by the private organisations, operating outside of the NHS, which could end up not only running the ‘back office functions’ for CCGs but also disempowering them
  • Proposals for a “quality reward” - an incentive for CCGs if they are deemed to have commissioned “well” - which could cause irreparable damage to the relationship GPs have with their patients
  • GPs being blamed by their patients for having to close services for financial reasons

Dr Buckman has urged the Government “to listen and act on the concerns of GPs in the interests of the future of the NHS and what is best for patients – there is a sensible alternative to proceeding with this Bill.”

He says this includes returning to the principle of allowing commissioning to be truly clinically led; for decision making to be devolved to local groups far more than is happening under the current plans; increasing co-operation between providers, including local authorities; and allowing the employment of more staff in primary care so more care can be delivered properly in the community.

The letter follows a meeting of the GPs Committee earlier this week where a motion was passed calling for the Government to withdraw the Bill and enter into dialogue with the BMA for alternative reform under existing legislation.

The BMA will also be asking GPs to write to their MPs outlining their concerns ahead of the Bill returning to the House of Commons later this month

Written by Scott Buckler
Friday, 02 March 2012 12:12

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