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Lansley to accept RCGP’s olive branch and invite health bill critics back to the table

Exclusive: GP professional bodies are to be handed a say in developing the mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board and indicators in the new outcomes framework, as the profession looks to regain a seat at the table following the passing of the health bill.

Pulse understands ministers are prepared to invite critics including the RCGP back to talks to discuss key sticking points in the implementation of the reforms now the legislation has been passed.

A senior Government source also ruled out the development of any secondary legislation surrounding competition, with the bill as it stands representing the “final word” on plans to expand the NHS market.

The DH is due to ‘set the levels of ambition’ for the NHS Commissioning Board in the autumn, which includes putting numbers to the indicators in the NHS outcomes framework.

The Government is keen to involve the medical profession in setting those levels because of the disparate views on what is achievable, with the GPC recently warning that many of the proposed targets are onerous and beyond clinical commissioning groups’ control.

Despite RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada’s well-publicised opposition to the health bill, ministerial sources told Pulse the Government was prepared to accept the college back to the negotiating table, after she wrote to the PM offering to help take the changes forwards.

Dr Gerada said: ‘Our conversations with the NHS Commissioning Board start shortly, to see how we can work through this. We will also talk to some leading CCGs to see how they’re doing and translate that into other areas. We fundamentally have to get GPs upskilled to commission. We have to be honest and get away from the enthusiasts and into the reality.’

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the BMA would now be focussing its energies around areas such as ‘the detailed operation of CCGs, the NHS Commissioning Board and Monitor’s role in the new system of economic regulation’.

Dr Meldrum said: ‘The BMA will continue to seek an evidence-based, sensible and practical approach to any implementation.’