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Future Forum to carry on scrutinising controversial health bill changes

Exclusive The NHS Future Forum is to scrutinise a number of controversial changes to the health bill, including plans for GP commissioning to be overseen by clinical senates, amid mounting criticism that the Government's plans will pile bureaucracy on GPs.


Professor Steve Field, chair of the Future Forum, told Pulse the panel's work was to continue and rejected accusations that its recommendations had displayed a lack of trust in GPs – insisting instead that the Government had gone ‘further than we suggested'.

His comments suggest the Government could come under pressure to soften its latest proposals, and follow a stinging critique of the plans by Dr Michael Dixon, a leading proponent of GP commissioning, who claimed they ‘patronise GPs' and treat them ‘like children'.

Professor Field, a GP in Birmingham, said: ‘The Government response went further than we suggested regarding composition of consortium boards. Consortia need appropriate governance, they should have specialists and nurses involved, but we did not say they had to be on the board. I believe what we put forward is appropriate and a fair reflection of what we heard. We're looking forward to the Future Forum looking at a range of areas.' These included clinical networks and senates, he said.

But Dr Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said the Future Forum's listening exercise was unbalanced: ‘It was basically a giant committee with many more senior managers than GPs. We need to stop treating GPs like children, dictating to them and constraining them.'