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GP federations 'starting to snowball'

By Nigel Praities

Exclusive: Hundreds of GP practices across the UK are already working in federation-like groupings, just two years after the RCGP's plans were first mooted, a Pulse investigation reveals.

The schemes – involving thousands of GPs – differ widely in how they operate, with some emerging organically from practice-based commissioning hubs and others more controversially involving private companies.

In total nearly 300 practices in 10 different parts of the country are now working in practice networks amid evidence that the college's idea of primary care federations may be beginning to take off.

The RCGP told Pulse federations were ‘starting to snowball' as part of the process of moving care into the community.

The schemes have mostly been welcomed by GP leaders, but some have warned the involvement of private providers – such as Assura – could open up practices to accusations they are ‘fleecing' local people to make profits.

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said although most of the new schemes were not official ‘federations', he had been really pleased to see a significant increase in interest from practices in the federation idea.

‘These things take a while, but I think it is really starting to snowball. They might not call it a federation, but they are working more closely together to provide more services in the community and closer to home,' he said.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, also welcomed the schemes but warned GPs about collaborations with private providers.

‘It is really important the extension of services is seen as something done for local people, rather than tabloid headlines saying we are fleecing local people again,' he said.

Professor Steve Field: Federations 'starting to snowball' Professor Steve Field: Federations 'starting to snowball'

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