By Gareth Iacobucci
GPs will be legally bound to adhere to all of their consortium's commissioning decisions, including policies on referral management and prescribing, under plans laid out in the Government's health bill.
If the bill is passed, each practice will be legally obliged to become a member of a consortium from April 2013, and will be required to act in accordance with the group's commissioning policies.
The regulations say they will make provision for ‘requiring a relevant contractor, in doing anything pursuant to the contract, to act with a view to enabling the consortium to which it belongs to discharge its functions'.
The move sets the scene for potential clashes between GPs, should consortium leaders disagree with practices over whether certain patients ought to be referred or about prescribing of particular drugs.
GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron Nash said the move underlined the importance of consortia being set up democratically, so that they held the confidence of their member practices when taking tough decisions.
She said: ‘It shows just how important it is that local practices are fully engaged, happy with who you have elected or appointed, and that if you're not happy with the way the consortia is run, there are processes and governance that enable you to have a right to say so, and change things.
‘This has underlined the absolute importance to make the governance structures robust, to make sure PCTs don't interfere, and that local doctors get together with their LMC, and make sure they are happy with the structures and the formations of the consortium.'Dr Beth McCarron Nash In-depth
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