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CAMHS won't see you now

Reality check on GPs' role in PCTs

From Dr Paul CharlsonBrough, East Yorkshire

Your story 'More power for GPs within PCTs' (News, 30 November) highlights the history of professional executive committees to date.

I spent six years as a member of a PEC and PCG executive. On reflection I have concluded it was largely a waste of time and money – a view shared by several other GPs who were similarly involved.

Our PEC became increasingly populated by more people from professions allied to medicine (PAMs) and fewer GPs, which in my view weakened it.

This was partially because GPs did not want to get involved and partially because of the influence of our PCT management, who argued that dentists, optometrists, physiotherapists, etc, were of equal importance to GPs in managing local services.

The final straw was when I sent around a spoof e-mail suggesting a clergyman be on the PEC and got two serious suggestions from GP colleagues.

The harsh reality is that GPs are responsible for spending nearly all of the budget and are in a unique position to know what is needed locally.

Whatever the merits of PAMs, they do not know intimately how general practice works and what drives and motivates referrals and prescribing.

Engaging GPs again is going to be a huge task. Most GPs are just not interested in what they view as a pointless charade.

There also needs to be a reality check over the payment for PCT work.

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