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Don’t shoot the messenger, Gerada tells PM, as Downing Street excludes critics from health bill summit

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of ‘shooting the messenger', after GP leaders who are critical of the Government's NHS reforms were excluded from a Downing Street summit today.

The RCGP and BMA, along with a host of other medical bodies who are opposed to the health bill, were not invited to the meeting of health leaders, who will discuss the implementation of GP commissioning and how the reforms will be taken forward.

And in a statement the RCGP said it understood the summit could be ‘one in a series of similar meetings to which we would hope to be invited'.

But a leading GP from the NHS Alliance, who will be attending the meeting, backed the Prime Minister's decision and said a discussion about the ‘practicalities' of commissioning would be more ‘constructive' than a further debate

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada told Pulse she was ‘worried and concerned' that any GPs attending would be representing the profession's views without a mandate.

‘I'm worried this has become so politicised,' she said.  ‘If it is the case that the people they are asking are the ones who designed the reforms, it doesn't make much sense to not include those that have serious concerns - the RCGP, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the BMA. They shouldn't be shooting the messengers; they should be listening to the message.'

Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘The NHS means too much to too many people for the Government to play this dangerous game of divide and rule.'
‘David Cameron has got this one wrong and I urge him to rethink his plans. Even at this late notice, he should extend an invitation to the BMA, RCN, RCM and RCGP to attend the talks.

But Dr Donal Hynes, co-vice chair of NHS Alliance and a GP in Bridgwater, Somerset, who is attending the meeting, said: ‘This is a discussion about the practicalities of the implementation of the new system of commissioning, and more constructive than a discussion about the merits or otherwise of various parts of the bill. This is more of a constructive debate rather than anything political.

In response to the RCGP's criticism about a lack of a mandate, he said: ‘We don't see that that's an accurate reality. There isn't a uniform GP opinion and there never has been. A uniform response doesn't reflect the myriad opinion. The reality is the core concept of putting clinicians at the centre of commissioning and at the centre of finding solutions is one we support.'