By Gareth Iacobucci
The Government's radical commissioning reforms have left many GPs feeling like 'rabbits in the headlights', according to the chair-elect of the RCGP.
Speaking at a King's Fund conference on commissioning, Dr Clare Gerada questioned health secretary Andrew Lansley's plans for all GPs to take on commissioning, warning that it could cause a backlash from patients if GPs were taken away from their day jobs as family doctors.
Dr Gerada, who takes over as chair of the college in November, also warned attendees from both the NHS and the private sector that the plans would be tested by GPs' natural reluctance to 'go to the dark side' by teaming up with private firms to deliver the Government's agenda through risk-sharing partnerships.
She told NHS managers at the event: 'We need your help. For most GPs, it's like rabbits in the headlights. There is also a natural disinclination to working with external organisations, for fear of going to the dark side and being part of the privatisation agenda.'
Dr Gerada said it was important that GPs' primary role as doctors is not forgotten, and warned that gaps in clinical knowledge required to commission some complex secondary care would need to be addressed.
She said: 'It's important we don't think all GPs will commission. 1-2% of GPs will have leadership positions. Otherwise, there will be an enormous backlash, because we still have to see the patients.'
Dr Gerada added that GPs' 'suspicion' that private firms will be used to performance manage them may disappear when GP consortia are in charge, and could make GPs more receptive to working with private sector partners.
And the new RCGP chair told Pulse that, despite the obstacles, GPs 'could commission better than PCTs', provided they were given the right support and resources to do so.
She added that the role of RCGP could be to 'develop a set of benchmarking standards that external companies have to meet' before they enter into risk-sharing partnerships with GPs.
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