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‘Don’t panic’ over commissioning plans, GPC tells GPs

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPC leaders have urged GPs not to be pressured by 'shellshocked' PCT bosses into immediately taking on a commissioning role, following the seismic shift of power outlined in the Government's White Paper.

At the first meeting of the GPC since the far-reaching plans were unveiled on Monday, negotiators warned that some disgruntled managers had already begun instructing GPs to just 'get on with commissioning' - just days after the Government published its White Paper calling for the abolition of PCTs and most commissioning budgets to be handed to GP consortia.

GP leaders said it was crucial that NHS managers avoided making ‘kneejerk reactions' to the plans, but warned GPs this was not the time to ‘get even' with PCTs for previous grievances, as it was vital that good managers are retained to make the plans work.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said it was not GPs' responsibility to ‘get on with it' now, as the GPC still had much to thrash out with the Government.

‘Incredibly, we are already hearing of PCTs telling GPs to get on with it,' he said. ‘Don't get on with it. You can't just set up these structures in minutes. If ever there was a case of waiting carefully, this is it.'

‘We have a very long list of questions for ministers. We are missing a large amount of detail. Almost every paragraph raises more questions than it answers. The message to GPs is, "don't panic".'

But Dr Buckman said it was vital that GPs fostered and maintained good relationships with PCTs, to prevent the best managers deserting the NHS for the private sector.

He added: ‘We need good managers. The worst thing would be to lose good managers to the private sector, and GPs have to buy them back. To smash up the furniture on the Titanic would be very unwise.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator with responsibility for commissioning, echoed Dr Buckman's warning, and advised GPs that the reforms were not an excuse to ‘get even' with PCTs.

He said: ‘This is not a time for GPs to be getting even with their PCTs. The challenge to GPs is to work closely with their PCTs.'

‘Many PCTs will be understandably shell-shocked. But it's important that PCTs don't have a kneejerk reaction, and we don't see a haemorrhaging of skilled staff leaving for the private sector.

The GPC said it would soon publish further guidance for GPs on how to make sense of the plans, and said it was vital that the profession engaged with the policy.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The biggest risk is we don't get involved. The biggest risk is wholesale privatisation. Those who are concerned will see their fears realised if they sit on their hands.'

Dr Laurence Buckman: Called for calm Dr Laurence Buckman: Called for calm Video: GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey on the White Paper

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