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Over 40% of GPs ready now to take on budgets

By Susan McNulty

Some 44% of GPs say they are ready to play a role in managing a commissioning budget, according to a recent survey of some 325 GPs.

The survey, conducted by Practical Commissioning’s sister title Pulse, found that 46% did not feel ready and 10% responded they didn’t know.

PBC clinical network lead Dr James Kingsland said the figure was higher than he had expected. ‘If we have 40% ready, willing and able to go as soon as the legislation is in place that would be great.’

NAPC chair Dr Johnny Marshall said: ‘I think it’s a really good figure to start from. Fundholding started at a much lower figure and only got up to about 50% once it had taken off.’

Dr Donal Hynes, NHS Alliance co-vice chair, said the high figure reflected a change in GPs’ attitude to their role in the NHS. ‘I think there’s an increased awareness that a GP working in isolation is not acceptable in the current financial climate and GPs are looking at the whole pathway and seeing themselves as stewarding that.’

The same survey also found 46% believed their local commissioning group had the capability to manage the budget effectively.

Where respondents were negative about the white paper it was because of the fast pace of reforms.

Some 61% said the Government should have piloted the plans and 62% did not support plans to hold GP commissioning groups to account for reductions in death rates and improved cancer survival.

Dr Hynes, a GP in Bridgwater, Somerset, said: ‘It might appear very fast but the financial constraints we are under mean that if we don’t take it up and run with it, decisions will be taken in the future that will not be in the better interests of our population.’

He added: ‘GPs might also be thinking they have to become a financial or HR manager but those skills are already in the community in the PCTs. GPs will tap into those skills but also be the senior decision makers but not the executors of those roles.’

Dr Kingsland argued PBC had been the pilot for the white paper.

Dr Donal Hynes: GPs’ attitudes to their role in the NHS are changing Dr Donal Hynes: GPs’ attitudes to their role in the NHS are changing