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GPC issues community care shake-up warning

By Lilian Anekwe

Thousands of GPs are finding it even more difficult to access district nurses, health visitors and other PCT-provided health staff because of the reorganisation of community health services, GPs leaders have warned.

The Department of Health launched Transforming Community Services in January 2009, ordering PCTs to separate their commissioner and provider functions and transfer directly provided services to social enterprises, community foundation trusts, integrated care organisations or private providers.

PCTs and SHAs have until the end of next month to agree proposals for the future structure of all currently PCT-provided community services.

LMCs are reporting that reorganisation plans have gathered pace in ‘in the last three to four weeks', and the GPC are warning PCTs are being hurried into reorganisations which may see district nurses and other community health staff redeployed to secondary care.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Within the next few weeks GPs are going to notice that the services from community staff – community matrons, physiotherapists district nurses, and health visitors – will either vaporise or turn up in some other guise where their ability to deliver services will be greatly reduced. We are concerned that will have a negative impact on patients' care. To not even attempt to involve primary care is a mistake.'

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: ‘To do this means you're playing with fire and asking for chaos.'

Dr Holden, who also works in a community hospital, added GPs who work as hospital practitioners who are offered new contracts by new providers should seek professional advice, or risk losing NHS benefits. ‘Any GP asked to sign a new contract should ask for professional advice from their industrial relations officer,' he said.

Dr Peter Holden: 'To do this means you're playing with fire and asking for chaos' Dr Peter Holden: 'To do this means you're playing with fire and asking for chaos'

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