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GP influence pales at PCTs

GPs will find it far harder to influence policymaking in newly-reconfigured PCTs because the organisations are so much larger, the NHS Confederation is warning.

It added that without a strong clinical voice driving them, PCTs risked becoming seen as an 'arm of government'.

As part of a consultation into the future structure of professional executive committees, the confederation called for a far clearer role – and distinct career path – for clinical members.

'Any new PCT will only succeed if it has a very well-developed relationship with frontline clinicians,' it said.

'The emerging shape of the new organisations suggests they will be sufficiently distant from frontline clinicians for meaningful leadership and engagement to be difficult.'

Committees should be aligned with practice-based commissioning consortia to ensure proper engagement across a wide geographic area, it added.

Jo Webber, deputy policy director at NHS Confederation, said: 'The PEC should not be seen as a bolt-on. The consequence will be you lose the reality check and what you will get is services that don't meet the needs of the population.'

Dr Mike Dixon, NHS Alliance chair, said the confederation's comments contrasted sharply with managers' attitudes towards clinicians when PCTs were first created.

He said: 'I don't think I've ever heard senior managers say such positive things about clinicians.'

Dr Helen Alpin, a former PEC chair in Leeds and a GP in the city, said there was a risk of losing skilled clinicians from PCTs because of the lag between the launch of reconfigured trusts and that of executive committees next April.

She said: 'I think there needs to be much more recognition of the value of clinicians in management.'

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