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Call for GP to head up NHS Commissioning Board

The NHS Commissioning Board should make a ‘grand gesture' and appoint a GP as its chair to usher in the new era of GP commissioning, according to a senior GP leader.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said the move would underline ministers' commitment to a clinician-led NHS, and ensure the board, which will authorise clinical commissioning groups and directly commission up to £20bn of services, remained connected to frontline services.

He said: ‘We need a grand gesture by the commissioning board that shows they are changing and not just saying they are, but showing it  - by putting a GP at the top.'

‘There will be a connection for GPs to see one at the top leading the board, and they would bring a thorough working and practical perspective of NHS services.'

The current chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, has already been appointed as chief executive of the new NHS Commissioning Board, and details of other key appointments are expected to be announced shortly.

But despite calling for a GP to chair the board, Dr Dixon ruled himself out as a potential candidate.

 ‘I don't see myself as the chair. My strengths if I have any are leading an independent organisation,' he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health declined to comment on the suggestion a GP could be appointed chair of the board, but said an announcement would be made 'in due course'.