GP leaders in England have voted in favour of putting the Primary Care Networks (PCN) DES to a ballot of the whole GP profession.
A motion has today been passed at England’s LMCs conference calling for a ballot of the profession before any future extension or changes to the PCN DES.
The motion asked that the conference ‘asks the GPC England to secure a firm mandate from the entire profession by means of ballot before negotiating any extension or changes to the PCN DES for the year [2021/22]’.
It was passed with 62% of delegates in favour, 35% against and 3% abstaining.
The introduction of the PCN DES this year was mired in controversy, including becoming subject to a special LMC conference which voted to reject it.
The motion, proposed by Devon LMC, said the BMA’s GP Committee ‘has never secured a robust democratic mandate for the PCN DES’.
Speaking in favour, Cannock GP Dr Manu Agrawal said: ‘[The PCN DES] is an existential threat to general practice as we know it. Let’s acknowledge this as a failed experiment.’
However, Avon LMC director and PCN clinical director Dr Lee Salkeld said that ‘pulling the rug from under the feet of the PCN DES risks stalling or undoing the good work that’s been achieved so far’.
Also speaking against the motion, Mid Mersey LMC member Dr Jade Myers said that balloting the whole profession would cause ‘unneccessary bureaucracy’.
She added:’Taking on this DES was not mandatory – 99% of practices in England are currently in a PCN and they find that it’s an opportunity for practices to work together to increase resilience locally. Does this not reflect the rule of the majority?’
But other speakers referenced the ‘pressure’ faced by practices to sign up, especially due to the funding attached to the DES.
At the time, NHS England’s announcement said that the ‘near total’ uptake ‘reflects support’ for PCNs which are ‘helping improve care for patients across the country’.
Practices were also given an opportunity to opt out of the DES in September, after NHS England updated it.
Motion in full
DEVON: That conference notes that the GPC England has never secured a robust democratic mandate for the PCN DES and so again asks the GPC England to secure a firm mandate from the entire profession by means of ballot before negotiating any extension or changes to the PCN DES for the year 2021 / 2022.