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GPs’ open letter urges Lansley to abandon plans

By Alisdair Stirling

The Government´s white paper reforms are ‘a dangerous leap in the dark' and expose the NHS to an unacceptable degree of financial and clinical jeopardy, a group of leading GPs and clinicians has warned

In an impassioned letter to The Times, responding to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley´s recent letter to GPs in England, the group urged the Government to abandon its proposals which it said may ‘irreparably harm the NHS'.

While they supported a greater role for clinicians in commissioning, they said GPs were ill-equipped to take on the huge responsibilities currently borne by PCTs and owed it to their patients to publicise their concerns about the plans.

The letter said there was no compelling evidence that the abolition of PCTs and the shift to GP-led commissioning would result in better or more cost-effective care and claimed the restructuring could cost the NHS £3bn at a time when it was expected to find £20bn of savings.

Mr Lansley had broken his election promise of no major reorganisations in the NHS, introducing profound reforms that could set the health service back three years, they said.

One of the signatories, Dr Kailash Chand, a GP for 27 years, who is now chair of Tameside and Glossop PCT said he supported the principle of GP-led commissioning but felt the White Paper proposals masked a hidden Government agenda: ‘In my view the government no longer want the NHS to be state-funded.

'They want to bring in an insurance-based system like in the US. They have left so many gaps to be filled in later. GP-led commissioning is a diversionary tactic so the real agenda can go through,' he said.

Other signaturies include Dr Helena McKeown, GPC member and a GP in Salisbury, Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets and Dr Jamie Macpherson, medical secretary of Coventry LMC.

Dr Kailash Chand