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Independents' Day

Leading GPs oppose Labour calls to halt NHS privatisation

A group of GPs have written to the Daily Mail dismissing Labour accusations of a ‘privatisation agenda’ and opposing pledges to roll back the involvement of the private sector.

The doctors, including LMC leaders and NHS alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon, have said that it is time to ‘move on’ from the old public versus private debate, and urge all parties to support clinically-led commissioning, rather than further confusing the role.

It follows a speech given by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, who said privatisation in the NHS had jumped 1.3% since the Coalition came to power.

Mr Burnham also proposed an anti-privatisation bill at the end of June and said David Cameron was ‘the prime minister who put the NHS up for sale without first seeking the permission of the British public.’

But the letter from 11 prominent GPs, including Wirral LMC chair Dr Ivan Camphor and Dr Fiona Butler, chair of West London CCG, states: ‘It is absolutely untrue to suggest there is any kind of “privatisation” agenda within CCGs or that we are forced to contract out for every service. The amount of NHS care commissioned from the private sector is today less than 6%, having grown slowly but steadily for ten years.’

It adds: ‘As both the previous Labour government and the current coalition have made clear, we must move on from the old debates about “public versus private” and provider whatever is best for patients.’

‘This week’s announcement will cause confusion for CCGs at a time when politicians should be supporting and trusting the hard work of local GP-led commissioning groups.’

Addressing members of the Unison trade union in Manchester on Tuesday, Mr Burnham called for a freeze on procurement of healthcare from non-NHS providers until the election.

He said: ‘The prime minister was not up front about these plans at the last election and he now needs to be reminded that he has never been given the permission of the public to put the NHS up for sale in this way. Further privatisation of services should not proceed until the public has had a proper say.’

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Readers' comments (21)

  • Ivan, have you sold your soul to the dark side?

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  • Not sure exactly who these GPs ate leading but certainly not me.

    If I was a constituent in these localities, I would expect as a minimum an opinion survey with good response rate supporting this view. If not they should be promptly ousted with vote of no confidence and LMC making an expression of dissociation from these individuals.

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  • Haven't all the authors?

    Dr Michael Dixon, President NHS Clinical Commissioners, Chair NHS Alliance, Chair College of Medicine
    Dr Barbara Rushton, Clinical Chair, South Eastern Hampshire CCG
    Dr Steve Laitner
    Dr Fiona Butler, Chair, West London CCG
    Dr Amit Bhargava, Clinical Chief Officer, Crawley CCG
    Dr Ken Aswani
    Dr John Ribchester
    Dr Ivan Camphor
    Dr Niall Leonard
    Dr Jude Mahadarachi
    Dr J Cuthbert'

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  • 11 self selected GPs in positions in comissioning, department of health, NHS Alliance or CQC support changes brought about which have provided them with positions of influence. Well what a (insert word you feel appropriate here) surprise. And what a surprise that a right wing sorry excuse for a paper publishes a letter signed by a small number of largely relative non entities as "leading" GPs.

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  • i think people are missing the point.

    the whole reason gp partners are being targetted and gps have suffered an unprecedented attack is that it is a battle for control. GP partners are independent and this upsets big business and politicians as they can't control this group of GPs - thats why there is so much pressure on them to leave or give up their contracts. unfortunately we have been sold out by some of our leaders who will gain (follow the money or private 'interests' of policticians and gp leaders to see how) if they can control us.

    for example the rcgp who should be helping gps are looking for federation / salaried workforce . why are they pushing that agenda but not alternative models?

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  • Anything that is endorsed by Michael Dixon and his mates must be very suspect indeed....

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  • Sorry, never heard of any of them except Michael Dixon.
    None are "leading " GPs.

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  • None of these self selected, and self anointed leading GPs speak for me or anyone I know.

    They are all biased in their positions of administration - and are paid to follow the DOH line in most cases.

    They should have all declared a declaration of interest, as they are either making money and decisions from privatisations, or supporting institutions that are trying to save money by farming out core GP work and contracts to private providers initially on the cheap, but eventually the cost will soar or quality will fail.

    We all know about the complete disaster farming out NHS payments to SBS has been - as no-one knows what has been paid and what is owed from their appalling service, yet they may get more contracts on the back of the Primary Care Support (PCS) Services dissolving.

    Any LMC which is supporting the 'NON' privatisation line needs to go back to the grass roots of Primary care and will soon find out how out of touch they are.

    We are in a position where a former head of the RCGP was themselves involved in a private capacity, and now speaks for the DOH policy and salaried position, which suits the agenda of the DOH to strip influence of GPs and split the BMA position, and allows other private companies to hire cheap labour and pay peanuts.

    These 'Leading' GPs are simply the ones 'leading' primary care into an abyss it may never recover from.

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  • We can now put a name to some of the commisars collectivizing primary care

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  • They seem to be mix of the usual Kings/Nuffield/NHS Alliance people. They have their own agendas perhaps but the bigger damage is the fact that the letter plays straight in to Govt's hands; responses to this letter will be to strengthen the public's view of GPs as money-grabbing rather than putting patients first. This is what the Govt wants, a dissatisfied public makes the way for a more competitive, marketised general practice system, where patients will move around and change choice frequently

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