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Pathfinder numbers and bill mark ‘point of no return’

The publication of the health bill and pathfinder consortia now covering more than 50 per cent of patients marks the ‘point of no return’ for GP commissioning, according to the chair of the NHS Alliance.

While still recognising there was still concerns on how the bill was implemented, Dr Mike Dixon said GPs opposing the reforms were ‘missing a trick’.

‘The issue is whether you think GPs should have a defining role in reforming health and social in this country. That’s the issue you need to start out from.’

Following publication of the bill, the Prime Minister, moved centre stage to reinforce the coalition government’s commitment to the reforms.

Some 100 GP representatives from the 141 pathfinder consortia were invited to 10 Downing Street to conclude an away-day organised by the DH.

The Prime Minister briefly met the pathfinders and in a speech that followed assured them the success of the reforms was ‘personally and politically’ important to him.

He addressed claims the reforms had come ‘out of the blue’.

‘This is not a revolution. It’s evolution. GP-led commissioning, patient choice, Payment by Results, Foundation Trusts – they have all existed in one form or another over the past 15 years.

‘Our plans simply build on those advances.’

The PM also dismissed claims GP consortia would be ‘forced’ to use the private sector to help them commission services.

‘Nothing could be further from the truth. Already, the new GP pathfinder consortia are working with the best staff in PCTs and SHAs to ensure their skills and talents are put to use in the new system.’

In a speech earlier last month the Prime Minister had claimed the high number of GP pathfinder applications reflected an ‘appetite’ for the NHS reforms.

However analysis of a recent survey of 160 GPs by Practical Commissioning’s sister paper, Pulse, suggests enthusiasm for the reforms might not run throughout individual pathfinders.

Of those respondents in a pathway, more than 60 per cent of GPs said they were opposed to the profession taking on commissioning.

And at the pathfinder DH away day leading up to the Number 10 reception Andrew Lansley is understood to have quickly faced a question from the floor on how the reforms were being introduced in such a ‘top-down’ way.

David Cameron: ‘This is not a revolution. It’s evolution.’ David Cameron: ‘This is not a revolution. It’s evolution.’