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GP leaders agree to take on out-of-hours commissioning role

GPs have narrowly backed calls to take a ‘central role' in out-of-hours commissioning, in a dramatic vote at the annual LMCs conference.

But delegates also demanded that the Government invest in the service in order to maintain ‘adequate, quality out-of-hours services', and called on the GPC to ‘vigorously' resist any attempt to make them the providers of last resort for out-of-hours care.

In a fiercely debated motion at last week's conference, 52% of delegates supported moves for GPs to have a central role in out-of-hours commissioning, despite staunch opposition from a vocal minority.

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of the GPC's commissioning and service development subcommittee, and chair of the debate, said: ‘This is a line in the sand. We have had it re-affirmed to us that being a commissioner is not the same as being the provider of last resort.'

‘We do believe that in some areas, if GPs were involved, we could avoid some of the problems at the moment.'

The vote came despite a number of GPs opposing, including Dr Philip Garnett, from North Yorkshire.

He said: ‘Inevitably there is going to be less funding to take on this poisoned chalice. It is turkeys voting for Christmas.'

GPs also rejected a separate strand calling on the GPC to urgently publish a minimum set of criteria, independent of the RCGP, that should apply in the event that GPs take back commissioning responsibility for out-of-hours.