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GPs attempt to take control over community services

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs are attempting to seize back control of community health services in areas where they are under threat as a result of the Department of Health's Transforming Community Services policy.

PCTs have until the end of the month to come to agreement with their SHAs over ‘a clear and realistic strategy for the future of community services', but have already been told by the DH to transfer the provision of community health services to other providers.

A GP consortium in Somerset will bid for the contract to provide community services, and minutes from last month's LMC Somerset newsletter state: ‘Despite the very short timescale the LMC, Wyvern Health and the Somerset GP Provider consortium have agreed that the services provided by Somerset Community Health are so important to GPs' day to day work that we should submit a joint expression of interest to the PCT.'

Dr David Rooke, a GP in Bridgwater, Somerset and chair of Wyvern Health, a GP cooperative, told Pulse: ‘Some of the other alternatives are slightly less palatable. We would look to form a new organisation with close links to secondary care and very strong links to current community services, general practice and social services.'

Meanwhile GPs in other areas are being denied the opportunity to bid for community service provider contracts. A GP in the Midlands who has a PCT leadership role who did not wish to be named said Trusts in the region heavily favour secondary care providers.

He told Pulse: ‘The only organisation deemed to have the necessary governance are acute and mental health trusts. We have a social enterprise but we have never been allowed by the PCT to exercise that or demonstrate that the governance is there because we're not deemed suitable to tender.

He added: ‘There's been no discussion with GPs who are supposed to be commissioning these services and this makes a mockery of practice-based commissioning.'

GPs in Somerset are attempting to seize control of community services, such as dietetics