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GPs legally bound to join CCGs in new contract

Practices will have to join a clinical commissioning group (CCG) as part of the new GP contract announced today.

The Department of Health welcomed the BMA's agreement that, subject to the Health and Social Care Bill, it will be a contractual duty for GP practices to be members of a CCG.

‘This provides clarity to GP practices over their contractual responsibilities and is an important step forward in the process of NHS modernisation,' the DH said.

RCGP chair and Lambeth GP Dr Clare Gerada told Pulse the move was 'probably sensible'.

She said: ‘Given the timetable around CCGs taking over commissioning from PCTs by April 2013 it is probably sensible to make membership a contractual obligation next year.'

The move is likely to cause problems. Particularly, as Pulse revealed today that GP practices in some parts of the country are being excluded from CCGs with speculation that some in areas of high deprivation were victims of cherry picking.

A Pulse survey also revealed that GPs lack confidence in their local CCG to a handle on NHS budgets, and are concerned that its board members may be compromised by conflict of interest. Dr Gerada told Pulse that CCGs should ensure good governance was in place and that all practices should be welcomed into CCGs regardless of their population's deprivation.