Letter: In defence of the NHS reforms
Read the full text of a letter from 42 GPs heading up commissioning consortia in support of the Government's controversial NHS reforms.
Dear Mr Cameron,
We write as the Chairs of GP Consortia across England to express our wholehearted support for the Coalition's health reforms for GP Commissioning. Together, our Consortia include nearly 1100 practices caring for over 7 million patients. The reforms have received a very bad press lately but much of the criticism has sadly been noticeably misinformed.
Firstly, the reforms are not revolutionary but an evolution and a natural conclusion of the GP commissioning role that begun with fundholding in the Nineties and more recently, of the previous government's agenda of GP polysystems and practice-based commissioning. Many of our Consortia have, therefore, already worked on commissioning together with PCT staff for three or four years. All that has been proposed is that instead of clinicians working under the direction of bureaucrats, the balance of influence and responsibility should change. Our patients should feel comfortable that decisions about the local provision of health care are to be taken in future by their family doctors, many of whom they know personally. We caution the Coalition of the danger of confusing and diluting the responsibility for effecting change in any amendments to the current proposals. Many GP Consortia already have a proven record of improving patient pathways and that innovation should not be constrained.
Secondly, concern has been raised that GPs are not skilled enough to commission care. This wilfully ignores the existing history of commissioning mentioned above but also misunderstands what will happen in the future. As GP commissioners, we will not be keeping the books personally, nor writing reports or contracts, nor compiling statistics. That will continue to be done by very able staff, who are already appropriately skilled and experienced. Our role as GPs will be to offer strategy, direction, clinical insight and local knowledge to the commissioning of healthcare in our areas. GP Consortia will continue working closely with colleagues from hospitals, community trusts and the Voluntary Sector to design the optimum care pathways for their area.
Thirdly, the reforms emphasise the role of patients in their own care. The reforms promise a place on every board for a patients' representative. On average, our patients see their GP four times a year, and if they are dissatisfied with the services provided on their behalf, will have no difficulty in saying so. When was the last time any patient managed an audience with a PCT Chairman?
Lastly, the reforms are not all about GPs. One of the most important elements of the reforms is that they are the first significant attempt to co-ordinate all aspects of care – primary, secondary, community and social - into a coherent and seamless whole via the Health and Wellbeing Board partnerships. If successful, there will be enormous benefits to the most elderly, infirm and vulnerable people in our community, whose care is often currently too fragmented.
Now that there are considerable financial constraints nationally, difficult decisions will have to be made on the provision of care. Surely it is better that these decisions are taken locally by professionals, who are in daily contact with the patients who will be affected by them, rather than by remote administrators. We believe that Mr Lansley's reforms deserve from everybody the support they already have from us.
Dr Jonathan Munday MA MB BChir MRCGP
Chairman, Victoria Commissioning Consortium (Westminster)
And 42 other GP Consortia Chairs as follows: -
Chair's Name - Consortium
Dr Tim Dalton - ALPF Health (Ashton Leigh)
Dr Gurkirit Kalkat - Barking & Dagenham
Dr Rashid Bhatti - Birmingham Inner City
Dr Ethie Kong - Brent
Dr Arnold Fertig - Cam Health
Dr Tim Berriman - Cannock Chase
Dr John Matthews - Care First North East
Dr Mike Ellis - Carrick
Dr Ruth O'Hare - Central London Healthcare (Westminster)
Dr Peter O'Brien/Dr Steve Allen - In Spires - Coventry
Dr Stewart Findlay - Durham Dales
Dr Joseph Chandy - Easington
Dr Paul Bowen - Eastern Cheshire
Dr Paul Weston-Smith - Erewash
Dr David Eyre-Brook - Guildford and Waverley
Dr Tim Spicer - Hammersmith & Fulham
Dr Ian Goodman - Hillingdon
Dr Nicola Burbidge - Hounslow
Dr Hamish Stedman - Hundreds Health – Salford
Dr Michael Eeckelaers - Manchester Central
Dr Bill Tamkin - Manchester South
Dr Alan Middleton - Mid Cornwall
Dr Tim Richardson - Mid Surrey
Dr Shane Gordon - North East Essex
Dr Derek Hopper - North East Lincolnshire
Dr Alistair Blair - Northumberland
Dr Darren Moore - Premier MK
Dr Marilyn Plant - Richmond
Dr Phil Garnett - Scarborough
Dr Ramila Patel - South Birmingham Independent
Dr Oluwatoyin Ogunsanya - South Essex
Dr Elizabeth Johnson - South Reading
Dr Steve Powell - Stafford and Surrounds
Dr Andrew Bartlam - Stoke
Dr Jonathan Cockbain/Dr Brendan Hudson - Sutton
Dr Peter Crouch - Swindon
Dr Shikha Pitalia - United League (Wigan & St Helens)
Dr Mark Hayes - Vale of York
Dr Rysz Bietzk - West Essex
Dr Chris Trzcinski/Nick Pulman - West Leicestershire
Dr Malcolm Skinner - West Norfolk and Wisbech
Dr Stephen Madgwick - Wokingham
Dr Simon Gates - Wyre Forest
Letter: In defence of the NHS reforms Letter: In defence of the NHS reforms