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Rival ‘listening exercise’ aims to boost profile of GP consortia

By Gareth Iacobucci

The NHS Alliance has launched a 'listening event' to address concerns that GP commissioners were being drowned out by a 'throng of detractors' during the Government's consultation on the health bill.

The Alliance said there was 'a lack of real representation and a lot of confusion' among GPs in consortia and urged them to continue to make progress on rolling out the reforms.

NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon said that, although modifications to the Health and Social Care Bill may be necessary after the Government's 'listening exercise', the principle of clinically-led commissioning should not be abandoned and that they will launch their own listening event to ensure GP commissioners were given a prominent voice at a time when opposition to the bill was in danger of drowning them out.

Dr Dixon said: 'The NHS Alliance feels that GP consortia need to have their voice heard among the throng of detractors coming from very different ideological backgrounds.'

'We feel that controversy around the bill might lead to some ignoring the desperate need to establish clinical leadership in the NHS and the current priority to get GP commissioning up and effective.'

He added: 'There is no going back on clinical commissioning and GP commissioning consortia should not be forgotten amid political discussions which are not going to bring significant changes to this aspect of the bill.'

'We are encouraging all GP consortia, especially pathfinders, to continue their pace of development and to not be distracted by the current hiatus in the passage of the bill.'

Dr Dixon added: 'It is undeniable that we need to listen to all professionals involved in making clinically-led commissioning happen, including nurses, allied professionals and consultants.'

'But, to be meaningful, this listening exercise needs to be led by frontline commissioners. It is about time that commissioners' voices are truly heard. That is what the NHS Alliance listening exercise will do.'

Dr Michael Dixon