By Ian Quinn
American consultancy firm McKinsey has said that GPs will need to spearhead plans to close hospital wards across the country if they are to successfully bail the NHS out of its £20bn debt crisis.
The firm's controversial report for NHS London, which formed the basis of Labour-backed proposals to shift care from hospitals to polyclinics, was cited by right-ring think tank Reform as a key piece of evidence in how to successfully generate huge financial savings - despite the fact the plans it advocated were recently halted by new health secretary Andrew Lansley.
Dr Nicholas Henke, director and head of healthcare practice at McKinsey and Co, told delegates at Reform's conference on Thursday that GPs' ability to slash funding would be crucial to the success of bailing out the NHS, especially in areas facing huge budget overspends.
He said: 'What happens when GPs in Oxfordshire find themsleves facing a £50m deficit? What do they do to find this? This will be happening in Surrey as well, in all parts of the country.'
Dr Henke said the creation of GP consortiums was likely to lead to hospital ward closures across the country.
'We would need to believe that these consortiums can be cheaper but equally effective systems, which make it possible to close enough hospital services,' he said.
At the recent BMA annual conference, GP leaders overhwhelmingly backed a motion opposing the closure of hospital beds, putting GP leaders, not for the first time, in direct opposition with the infamous NHS consultancy firm.
McKinsey has urged that GPs take on a key role in closing hospitals McKinsey has urged that GPs take on a key role in closing hospitals