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Opposing commissioning plans would be 'disastrous' for general practice, GPs warned

By Gareth Iacobucci

Senior GPs have urged the profession not to turn their backs on the Government's radical White Paper reforms, with one GP leader warning it would be ‘utterly disastrous' if GPs fail to engage with the plans.

The call to arms follows last week's launch of a major joint consultation exercise between the RCGP and the NHS Alliance, who will host a series of regional talks to harness grassroots opinion to the commissioning plans, and help inform responses to the official Government consultation which ends in October.

The White Paper reforms have so far received a mixed response from GPs, with many keen to take on a commissioning role, but others fearing the responsibility could be a 'poisoned chalice'. But the leaders of each organisation this week stressed the importance of GPs engaging with the plans, and urged the profession not to ‘sit on the sidelines' while changes happen around them.

The RCGP – which is also running a separate consultation with members on the more general principles put forward in White Paper - has urged GPs to come forward ‘in their thousands' to make their voices heard.

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said: ‘I hope that college members and fellows in their thousands will contribute, either as individual GPs or as part of the college's response. Please don't sit on the sidelines and just allow things to happen.'

‘Our future – and the future wellbeing of our patients – is at stake here. We cannot miss this opportunity to influence our own destiny.'

In an exclusive interview with Pulse (watch the full video here) NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon told Pulse he hoped that ‘every GP and practice manager' will take part in the debate.

He said: ‘I know many people feel fearful at the moment, and feel that there are all sorts of potholes, but I don't think this is something we can turn our backs on.'

‘The effect of GPs not embracing the White Paper and making it work would be utterly disastrous for general practice.'

Dr Dixon also revealed that on-going talks between national GP groups including the Alliance, the NAPC, the RCGP and the Family Doctor Association, designed to try and establish common ground over the Government's plans, were unlikely to yield sufficient consensus to submit a joint response to the Government's consultation.

He said: ‘I don't think there will be anything quite as formal as [a joint response]. I think each organisation will produce its own response.'

‘There are all sorts of polarities of view, even within the Alliance.'

But he added: ‘We are meeting with those groups, so there will be some sort of consensus in that respect.'

Dr Michael Dixon: Failing to engage with the plans would be 'utterly disastrous' Interview: Dr Michael Dixon

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