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Second CCG calls on Cameron to drop health bill

Exclusive A second clinical commissioning group has written to the Prime Minister calling for the withdrawal of the health bill, as GP commissioners pile pressure on the Government to rethink the legislation.

City and Hackney CCG said it believed the bill would ‘hamper future improvements, not help us’, and described the CCG authorisation process as a ‘huge disruption and very bureaucratic’. The move follows a similar letter from Tower Hamlets CCG earlier this week, and comes as a group of doctors who have campaigned against the health bill prepare to launch a ‘Call on your CCG’ website as an outlet for GPs on CCGs to register their opinions on clinical commissioning and the bill itself.

In a letter to David Cameron, joint chairs of City and Hackney CCG Dr Clare Highton and Dr Haren Patel said the bill was distracting them from working on clinical pathways, and distracting managers who are being forced to form commissioning support organisations.

The letter said: ‘We strongly support the benefits of involving clinicians in commissioning, but do not support the bill. We have been involved as GPs in commissioning for the last five years and have brought about many improvements for our patients. We have done this through a social enterprise with public members, without your bill. We believe the bill will hamper future improvements, not help us.

‘We are now having to go through huge disruption and a very bureaucratic process to be authorised as a CCG. This is already taking us away from working on clinical pathways with our local hospital, mental health and other services. Our NHS primary care trust managers are also distracted by having to form a ‘business’ commissioning support organisation with us as their ‘customers’.

‘As GPs we care deeply about our local NHS and the quality of care we are able to offer our patients. We object to you using our willingness to be elected onto our CCGs by our peers to improve patient care as evidence that we support your bill. Like most NHS staff, we are afraid the NHS will be damaged beyond recognition in a few years if the bill is passed.’

(Read the full letter here)

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill Dr David Wrigley, Dr Jacky Davis, Dr Clive Peedell and Professor Ian Banks, are aiming to launch a new website this week based on the quartet’s successful ‘Call on your College’ site that has helped trigger emergency meetings of several medical Royal Colleges about the health bill.

Dr Wrigley said the new site will host a survey offering CCG members the chance to vote on their support for commissioning and a separate poll on their support for the health bill itself.

He told Pulse: ‘This is not about being against GP-led commissioning; this is about getting the views of those involved in commissioning on the health bill itself. You don’t need the health bill to have successful clinically-led commissioning. We want to inform GPs on CCGs about the situation with the health bill and allow them to come to a decision on whether to support the health bill or not.’

Meanwhile a senior GP commissioning lead has told Pulse that a rival letter calling on CCG leaders to back the health bill is being circulated within the NHS Clinical Leaders Network.

Dr David Jenner, lead for Eastern Devon CCG, said: ‘Someone is touting for signatures on the national clinical leaders network for people to write a letter in support of keeping the bill in some form.’

‘What I would anticipate is there will be groups of CCGs who will write letters saying ‘drop it’, there will be groups who will say keep it, and there’ll be a lot of people who will just wait and see. My personal feeling, I can’t say it’s one from my CCG, is that the bill has been so far amended now that it’s lost the faith of the people who are supposed to deliver it.’