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NHS reforms prompt renewed call for ‘paediatric GPs’

By Lilian Anekwe

Plans for specialist paediatric GPs could be revived after experts said it was the only way to reduce the risk of damage to children's health services from the Government's NHS reforms.

The researchers in paediatrics and public health, including a GP and senior clinical scientist at the University of Oxford, called on the Government to introduce children's healthcare teams comprised of GPs with dedicated training in paediatrics leading a team of dedicated paediatricians, nurses and health visitors.

It also called for all GPs to have ‘mandatory dedicated training in paediatrics' after claiming the care provided by the NHS fell far short of that in comparable European countries.

The system echoes that mooted by NHS managers in several SHAs, who Pulse reported in March last year aimed to establish primary care ‘children's centres' as part of plans to move a huge volume of paediatric workload out of hospitals.

Pulse first revealed plans, in a London-wide strategy document published in November 2009, to develop a new breed of specialist GPs to take on the provision of child health care.

The report cited Sweden and the Netherlands where care for children is provided by GPs with enhanced training in paediatrics coordinating with local paediatricians, as a model for the provision of children's health services and said it would be ‘feasible in the UK'.

Writing in the BMJ, the researchers concluded: ‘We believe that the proposed changes to the NHS in England do not address children's needs and, worse, risk exacerbating the problems we have described.

‘Comprehensive integrated teams in primary care settings should provide the majority of children's healthcare. Problems with children's first access care may not be solved by devolving commissioning to GPs, or private sector proxies, not least because of conflicts of interest.'

Experts call for introduction of specialist paediatric GPs