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CCGs are the ‘only hope of a safety net’ for protecting the NHS, says GPC chairman

CCGs are the ‘only hope of a safety net’ for protecting NHS care in a system where competition increasingly rules the roost, the GPC chairman will say in his last annual report to the BMA.

Speaking at the association’s annual representatives meeting in Edinburgh later today, Dr Buckman voices support for CCGs, saying they can help protect the NHS as we know it.

He will express disappointment at the direction the Government is taking the NHS in, with increasing privatisation, and managers choosing private providers over GPs for local contracts.

‘Since April we have endured the latest top-down, NHS reorganisation in England. The vision initially presented by government sounded OK to many GPs – it promised more power to local clinicians and less political interference.’ he will say.

‘But I’m really worried that an alternative vision is taking hold, where competition rules the roost and tenders are won by the lowest bidder. This is not conjecture. It’s happening. How else can one explain the bizarre turn of events when all the GPs in Hackney tried to deliver Out of Hours Care and were stopped by their PCT?’

CCGs are the ‘only hope of a safety net’, protecting the NHS as we know it, he will add: ‘Clinical commissioning groups still have a chance to protect what is best about our NHS. But they must do this by working with all GPs in their area and with colleagues in their local hospitals, public health services, and with patients. They are the only hope of a safety net – to ensure patients continue to have access to high-quality, local NHS services.’

He will also attack the Government’s ‘simplistic’ blaming of out of hours services for the rise in patients attending emergency care, calling for a ‘sensible, rational and joined-up solution involving NHS staff and patients.’

The Government has positioned its changes to out-of-hours services as a ‘magic wand to solve all the challenges besetting the NHS’, but it is unsupported and lacking in an evidence base, he will add.

He will also attack changes to the QOF which lack clinical evidence and waste GP time.

‘What benefit is there from conducting a yearly survey of diabetic patients asking them if they have erectile dysfunction?  Why am I now asking large numbers of patients if they do the gardening, or old people with Zimmer frames if they go cycling?’ he will say.

He will end his last speech to the BMA, after 16 years working for the GPC, by saying no-one will be as delighted by his resignation as his wife.