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GPC reveals ‘fundamental principles’ for GP commissioning

By Gareth Iacobucci

GP consortiums must have given adequate resources in order to fulfil the Government's ambitious commissioning agenda, including sufficient cover at their practices to maintain levels of access, the GPC has said.

The details are outlined in the the GPC's first position statement on GP commissioning since the publication of the Government's White Paper, which sets out the 'fundamental principles' it feels should underpin the reform agenda and will negotiate on later this year.

In a clear attempt to draw a line in the sand on funding, the GPC states that groups ‘need to receive adequate resource and support to undertake the work involved in commissioning services'.

It adds: ‘It is vital that GPs are able to organise their commitment to service redesign in such a way that there is sufficient cover at their practice to ensure that patient access is maintained.'

And it calls for consortiums to be ‘democratically accountable' to practices they represent, saying that groups should act with ‘integrity and leadership when considering the accountability of practices'.

Other principles outlined in the document include GPs not personally profiting from commissioning budgets, and the need to reinvest freed-up resources in patient care.

The GPC's statement warns that contracts held by GPs should ‘never be allowed to conflict with their professional responsibilities in providing care for patients', and that GP consortiums should ensure that ‘NHS providers are the providers of choice' wherever possible.

In addition, it said the role of LMCs would have to change to reflect the new NHS structures, with local committees carrying additional responsibilities for ‘facilitating the initiation, evolution and scrutiny of the commissioning consortia'.

It said the White Paper will bring ‘many additional responsibilities for LMCs', including ‘assuring fair processes in the setting up of commissioning structures' and ‘ensuring that consortium arrangements and functions are fair and appropriate for practices'.

The GPC also states that public and patient involvement should be integral to the work of consortiums, which, it says, must be committed to reducing healthcare inequality.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘GPs will be asked to take responsibility, through consortia, for a large proportion of the NHS budget, however their first responsibility should still always be to their patient. If GP commissioning is to work these are the principles that we think all involved should adhere to.'

He added: ‘If GP commissioning is to bring real change and benefit to patients and the NHS then time needs to be given to planning how it should work, based on the principles we've outlined.'

‘I would urge GPs to resist pressure to move too quickly, send questions and concerns to us and keep an eye on the BMA website as we will be producing practical guidance on a regular basis.'

The GPC's principles of GP commissioning More on GP commissioning at the NAPC Annual Conference

A top line-up of expert speakers – including Sir David Nicholson, Mark Britnell and Stephen Dorrell MP - will be addressing the latest developments in GP commissioning at the NAPC Annual Conference in Birmingham in October.

To find out more and book your place today please click here.

Dr Laurence Buckman: 'I would urge GPs to resist pressure to move too quickly'

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