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GPs are ‘agents of state privatisation’, says GPC

GPs have become ‘agents of state privatisation’ in a development that threatens the integrity of the whole profession, says the GPC in the most strongly worded attack it has issued on the Goverment’s reforms so far.

The motion says CCG membership means GPs have become ‘integral agents of state rationing, cost control and privatisation’ which ‘seriously threatens’ the trust between GPs and their patients, and poses a risk to the integrity of NHS general practice.

The GPC added that there were significant obstacles in the way of GPs implementing the recommendations of the Francis report as they will be under pressure from their CCGs to stay within budgets.

The news comes after Pulse revealed that two practices were forced to join their CCG by NHS England against their wishes, in a move which the GP leaders said flew in the face of the idea that the NHS reforms put more power into GPs hands.

Hundreds of GPs have also been asked to sign legal agreements in the form of CCG constitutions which prevent them from speaking in public about anything related to their CCG.

The motion was passed at yesterday’s GPC meeting. Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘It is highlighting the difficulty in which GPs are placed because of their position as being both members of the CCGs and the desire and professional responsibility to provide a service to their patients.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul added: ‘This motion is describing concerns about how things may pan out. The idea of membership is a misnomer - in normal membership, you have a choice about whether you want to be a member.

‘The Government speaks of membership as some sort of club where members are all in agreement. But actually GPs have been forced into it… it forces GPs to be bound by the rules of those organisations even when they explicitly dissent from the view of the organisation.’

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: ‘Decisions on treatments should be made by clinicians, based on what is most clinically appropriate for the patient.

‘Far from putting GPs at odds with the interests of their patients, the changes we have made to the health service will ensure that it is clinicians who take these decisions in future, based on clinical evidence and in the interests of patients.’

The full GPC motion

That the GPC believes that compulsory practice membership of CCGs with statutory duties as defined by the Health and Social Care Act:

1.risks placing GP partners in a position of untenable conflict between their professional obligations to patients and the statutory obligations of their practices as CCG members;

2. fundamentally changes the role and nature of general practices, and, in view of recent regulatory changes, risks forcing them to be integral agents of state rationing, cost control and privatisation, seriously threatening the trust between GPs and their patients and therefore posing a risk to the very integrity of NHS general practice

3.places significant obstacles in the way of GPs and practices acting in accordance with the recommendations of the Francis report as they will be under inevitable pressure to comply with their CCGs’ statutory obligations to stay within budgets and to achieve financially and managerially-driven targets which conflict with the needs of their patients;

4. adds to competing pressures on general practice, particularly following the recent contract imposition, and GPC recognises that practices must and will prioritise providing safe essential services to their patients and are therefore very likely to consider limiting their engagement with their CCG and its activities to their contractual obligations;

5.leads it to call upon the BMA and local medical committees to rubustly support doctors which are placing the interests of their patients as their first concern and who may be unable to comply with obligations placed upon them by the constitution of their CCG where there is evidence that patient safety may be compromised by the requirements of CCG policy.