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Doctors’ leaders back bid to halt community services chaos

By Ian Quinn

BMA leaders are planning a move to have the controversial Transforming Community Services progamme officially declared a case of maladministration, ramping up efforts to persuade health secretary Andrew Lansley to stop the process.

At the Annual Representative Meeting in Brighton, GP leaders led a furious attack on the policy pushed forward by the previous Government, claiming it has been rushed through in a politically-motivated timescale which had caused chaos across the country.

As well as passing a motion calling for the process to be halted, the ARM also backed proposals to prepare an official complaint to the Government ombudsman, claiming if it is declared maladministration because of an 'impossible timescale' imposed on trust bosses it could yet give clinicians a chance to salvage the turmoil on the ground.

Mr Lansley, who will face the conference on Wednesday, has already said all TCS plans should now involve consultation with GPs but BMA leaders want him to go much further and rip up existing proposals.

The former Labour Government gave trusts six weeks before the election to complete plans for a wholesale restructure of their community services arms, which in many cases has seen plans for services to be offloaded to acute trusts rushed through, much to the anger of GPs.

'This process was accelerated for political reasons,' GPC negotiator Peter Holden told the conference. 'I believe this was maladministration and I think it still is.'

Dr David Wrigley, a GP in Carnforth, Lancashire, said: 'TCS has been an utter disaster and I would say to Andrew Lansley when you come here on Wednesday we want you to step in and stop this lunatic policy.'

BMA chair, Dr Hamish Meldrum, told the conference: 'Most people agree that Transforming Community Services has been a shambles, how we sort it out is the real problem.'

A Pulse investigation recently showed the process was in most cases leading to vertical integration of services such as district nurses and health visitors with acute and mental health trusts.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey added: 'Community services need to work in cooperation with secondary care not be dominated by them. As a result of this process we're going to have worse community services and less community nurses, not more.'

Doctors' leaders back bid to halt community services chaos