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RCGP chair: Labour's reforms could 'destroy general practice'

The RCGP said that the Labour Party’s plans to place GPs under the control of hospital-led ‘integrated care organisations’ announced in a speech by Andy Burnham today could ‘destroy everything that is great’ about general practice.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said the college had ‘grave concerns’ about the plans, which she said contradicted Labour’s vow not to lead another top-down reorganisation of the NHS.

Her concerns were echoed by other GP leaders, including GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon, who said that the plans extend the idea that hospitals ‘queen it over primary care’.

Mr Burnham said he wanted every hospital to become an ‘integrated care organisation’ with ‘GPs at the centre’, and that hospitals should grow into the community and ‘into people’s homes’, providing an ‘end-to-end journey’ for patients.

But Dr Baker criticised the plans. She said: ‘The college has grave concerns about Andy Burnham’s proposals to create hospital-led integrated care organisations.

‘His plans could destroy everything that is great and that our patients value about general practice, and could lead to the demise of family doctoring as we know it.

‘Only yesterday he criticised the expensive and time-consuming top-down reorganisation of the NHS as a result of the Health and Social Care Act. Yet his proposals would be just as disruptive, causing even more upheaval for patients and distracting doctors and managers away from what really matters – delivering excellent patient care.’

The concerns were echoed by Dr Dixon, who told Pulse: ‘I think having it hospital led slightly defeats the purpose doesn’t it, of trying to invest your resources, time and effort in developing primary care, because what do hospitals know about primary care anyway?

‘So I think that’s the wrong starting point, it may be the right ending point though – provided there’s an equal say, and equal leadership between primary and secondary care.

‘But the models we’ve had so far tend to talk about hospitals queening it over primary care.’

Dr Vautrey told Pulse earlier today that he was ‘extremely worried’ about the plans.

He said: ‘GPs will be extremely worried about the creation of large organisations employing salaried GPs as this would lead to the destruction of practices which patients value so highly to achieve.’

But former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said though she supported plans for an integrated care organisation leading on population health, this should be GP and nurse led.

She told Pulse: ‘What Andy seems to have said, which is absolutely right, is that we need organisations that look after populations, non-competing, geographically aligned organisations with ideally pooled budgets and planning done at that population level with GPs at the centre.

‘I think actually it should be GPs and nurses at the centre. So yeah, I think that is great.’

The shadow health secretary has said that GPs should shift towards being predominately salaried, comments which have led the GPC to call on Labour to ‘be honest’ on the fact that their proposals for the NHS amount to another major reorganisation.

The comments come as the RCGP released a 10-point manifesto, urging all political parties to adopt greater GP-led care integration and reject further reorganisations.

Readers' comments (18)

  • Vinci Ho

    The choice before human beings, is not, as a rule, between good and evil but between two evils. G.O.

    Strong temptation to cast a blank vote......😑

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  • John Glasspool

    Don't panic folks! Labour will NOT win the election. Why? As Bill Clinton said, "It's the Economy, stupid". And on Cameron's watch, it has improved. Whether that is anything to do with him and his policies is another matter. Stand by for a small, but adequate Tory majority after May 15. (Barring some massive disaster.)
    DOI- None- I hate them all.

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  • Labour want salaried GPs employed by NHS managers who haven't a clue about the real world of health and the tories want salaried GPs employed by large private companies who haven't a clue about the real world of health,it's over I am off back to Queensland I loved it there

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  • There's a reason I chose not to work in a hospital environment - too much bureaucracy with not enough focus on the job in hand and too anonymous. If GP was restructured in this way I think I'd be looking for a new career.

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  • Rearranging the chairs on the titanic..once again!

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  • Our local hospital trust is forecast to have a £20m deficit by year end partly because 40% of the doctors that work there are locums,why is this? poor rates of pay? Poor working conditions? General Practice in the county is of a pretty uniform high standard and beacons of excellence to suggest a failing organisation with incompetent managers in charge should take over successful businesses is madness

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  • So glad my son has chosen to study law rather than medicine

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  • This plan is probably even more to the liking of the big multi national health care providers. Vertical integration leads to total control of the healthcare economy in large areas by one provider.....how is that going to give better cost effective health care in the long term???

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    Big organisations - big spends, big deficits, too many managers and no-one has a clue what's going on on the ground.

    Only positive, easier to privatise and give out tenders to US healthcare buddies.

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  • The Labour Party has only ever believed in "process" and not in "results". They don't care what the result is, as long as it was done in a Soclialist, centralised, top-down, the state knows better than you process, the Labour Party will be happy. Therefore pointing out to them that it will be the end of all that is great in general practice has no effect on Labour, the end result is meaningless to them, the process of countless sclerotic committees and bureaucrats is what lights Labour's fire.

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