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GPs shy away from 'irrelevant and pointless' PCO role

A high-profile dispute between two GPs and local NHS managers will make doctors even more reluctant to work for primary care organisations.

GPs say the row between Dr Les Glass and Dr Roger Ford and Sunderland Teaching PCT shows the lack of influence doctors have over PCO's policies and the 'politicisation' of the NHS.

Sunderland TPCT suspended the two GPs from its professional executive committee last year, accusing them of 'failing to maintain corporate responsibility' after they disagreed with policy proposals.

The trust withdrew the accusations last month and compensated the GPs, but insisted it has not apologised for its actions (see right).

Dr Ford and Dr Glass have said they will not stand for reselection to the committee as a result of the case.

Dr Jake O'Donovan, who resigned as an executive member of Morecambe Bay PCT earlier this year because of proposed cutbacks in services, said GPs working for PCOs had little influence over decisions.

'This is part of the increasing corporatisation and politicisation of the NHS. There is an obsession with targets and often this has nothing to do with the actual health needs locally,' said Dr O'Donovan, a GP in Dalton-in-Furness.

Dr Julian Neal, chair of the GPC primary care development sub-committee, said he did not want to comment on individual cases, but GPs increasingly viewed being a member of a professional executive committee as 'pointless and irrelevant'.

He added: 'The PCTs are kowtowing to the secondary care sector and are not doing the job of managing primary care properly.'

NHS Alliance chair Dr Mike Dixon said GPs needed to be given a greater say in the way PCOs were run.

'The breakdown in the understanding between the frontline clinicians and the PCT management is a national problem that needs to be addressed,' he said.

The NHS Alliance and the National Clinical Governance Support Team are to launch a plan to encourage PCOs to give PECs a greater role.

By Joe Lepper

Trust sorry ­ but not that sorry

Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust is insisting it has not apologised to Dr Lesley Glass and Dr Roger Ford, despite withdrawing its accusations and expressing 'regret' at the distress it had caused.

In a letter to the GPs, seen by Pulse, Sunderland TPCT chair Sue Winfield said: 'The trust regrets that matters have not been able to be resolved before now and regrets the consequent distress caused to you during this


But a spokesman for the trust said this was not an apology. He also denied

any compensation had been offered, claiming a 'finan-

cial settlement' had been reached.

He said: 'A financial settlement was made in lieu of notice of their standing down from the PEC and also to forestall the possibility of the TPCT facing the potential costs of the dispute continuing.'

Dr Ford and Dr Glass have refused to comment, but are understood to be furious at the trust's stance, and strongly deny its accusation they agreed to stand down from the professional executive committee as part of a deal to end the dispute.

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