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GPs split on Government’s commissioning plans

By Lilian Anekwe

Exclusive: General practice is split over the Government's plans for GP commissioning, with broad support over the proposals but nervousness over whether they can be made to work, a Pulse poll has found.

Just under half of GPs say they are ready to take on a commissioning role, according to the first 250 responses to Pulse's survey of the profession's views on the Department of Health White Paper.

GPs told the survey in general they supported health secretary Andrew Lansley's radical plans for GPs to take on commissioning budgets - with 51% backing them, 31% not and the rest undecided.

But there was a clear divide over whether the profession would be capable of managing the planned £80bn commissioning budget effectively – with 40% saying it would, and 39% saying it would not.

GPs were slightly more confident that their own local commissioning groups would be able to take on budgets effectively, with 45% saying they would, against 33% who said they would not.

Some 43% of GPs said they were ready to take on commissioning budgets, but 46% said they were not ready. Overall, 34% of GPs said they had experience of large-scale commissioning, and 16% had experience of budget management.

GPs criticised the haste with which the plans are being introduced, with plans for GP consortiums to take full financial responsibility for commissioning by April 2013 – 60% said the Government was wrong to press ahead without first piloting the changes.

Dr Joe McGilligan, a GP in Redhill, Surrey, said: ‘Finally the Government has realised those who write the cheques have to have cash. By making us GPs responsible and accountable there can be real dialogue between primary and secondary care so that there is a seamless transfer of care. I applaud Mr Lansley's courage and conviction.'

But Dr Julian Hall, a GP in Birmingham said: ‘I don't remember signing up for any of this at any stage of my training and subsequent practice. I feel completely unprepared. I consider myself competent in the job I was trained to do, and that's challenging enough – when and how are we going to fit all this in? What the health secretary is suggesting will only limit the face to face time I will have with patients.'

GPs are split over plans to put them at the centre of NHS commissioning GPs are split over plans to put them at the centre of NHS commissioning Click here to read our full analysis of the health White Paper Health White Paper Your questions on the White Paper

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