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Letter of the Week: GPC must call referendum on OOH to give grass roots a voice

As chair of our LMC, I attended the recent LMCs conference in London. After a lively debate, there was a very close vote in favour of GPs taking on responsibility for commissioning out-of-hours services.

We therefore find ourselves in a position where the Government can claim GP support for its proposals to return this responsibility to general practice.

My concerns reflect those aired at the conference. I am far from convinced that when the crunch comes we will not become providers of last resort.

If we have responsibility for commissioning and cannot get adequate provision, then we will ultimately have to take on the provision of services.

Also, there are significant concerns about the level of funding for out-of-hours services. If we are given inadequate funding to commission, the services will be inadequate. The big problem we will then have is that the average patient will be unable to discriminate between providers and commissioners and we GPs will take the brickbats.

The LMCs conference is attended by a large number of experienced and well-informed GPs. I do wonder at times, however, whether they are adequately representative of grass-roots general practice.

My LMC has therefore contacted the GPC to ask that we have a full referendum on this issue before it is adopted as policy by the GPC. The referendum needs to be preceded by a wide ranging debate and a series of road shows.

From Dr Gary Sweeney
Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

The controversial LMCs vote for GPs to commission out-of-hours care has provoked a backlash from grassroots GPs The controversial LMCs vote for GPs to commission out-of-hours care has provoked a backlash from grassroots GPs

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