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GPs didn’t massage quality scores

PEC GPs warn of dire fate for clinical leadership in NHS restructuring

By Ian Cameron

Clinicians' voices are going unheard in the latest reorganisation of the NHS, GPs have warned.

A conference of around 30 PCT professional executive committee chairs said the aims of Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS, which will see the number of PCTs more than halved, fail to recognise that clinical, not managerial, leadership is the most efficient way to design and manage services.

A separate survey of PEC chairs also found more than 60 per cent believed clinical engagement would deteriorate.

GPs at the conference, who are to submit a dossier of worries to ministers, said the PEC structure in PCTs had been a good start in exerting clinical influence over commissioning.

But they warned the benefits of practice-based commissioning could be undermined if clinicians were not supported further up the chain by other doctors.

Dr Jim Goodman, PEC chair of Wyre Forest PCT, said it was ‘vital' new commissioning bodies and strategic health authorities have clinical leadership ‘at every level'.

He added: ‘We've got to a point where practice-based commissioning will allow clinical leadership to flourish but we are in danger of wasting all that. It's not clear what happens next.'

George Ewbank, PEC chair of Ashfield PCT, said clinical leadership had not ‘gone completely well' in every PCT, but added: ‘They are changing things just as these organisations are getting things sorted out.'

Dr Susan Davies, PEC chair of South Somerset PCT, said her LMC had not been consulted over plans and GPs felt their view ‘probably wouldn't be very welcome'.

She was particularly worried that change appeared to be driven by the need to make management savings. ‘The new organisations should learn from past mistakes, where commissioning decisions were taken for financial reasons by CEOs and directors of finance,' she said.

‘This resulted in a more-of-the-same historical pattern of investment being perpetuated each year and no money left for new developments.'

An NHS Networks survey revealed 85 per cent of PEC chairs thought the implementation timetable for the plans was unrealistic. A third said they were concerned they might not be able to influence local plans.

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