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Changes to community services have ‘fragmented care’ warn LMCs

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs have deplored the previous Government's Transforming Community Services drive which has fragmented community care, in a motion passed at the LMCs conference.

The Labour Government insisted that Primary Care Trusts split their provider and commissioner arms and transfer the provision of community services to another provider, outside of primary care, by no later than the 1st of April this year.

And in motions debated last week, LMCs GPs made their strength of feeling about the service reorganisation clear.

Dr Sian Job, a GP in Wandsworth representing Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth LMC, told delegates: ‘Increasingly the most popular model is to vertically integrate and swallow up services. Secondary care increasingly looks to vertically integrate with primary care.

'Transforming Community Services can raid the budgets of primary care and fragment the primary care team. General practice has been decimated and services primed from the involvement of the private sector.'

But speaking against Dr Alan Dow, a GP in Plymouth, said health secretary Andrew Lansley's recent announcement that the Government intended to penalise hospitals that discharged patients too soon, might mean that community service providers were forced to comply to tough new clinical standards.

‘Things change and they change very fast in the health service. Community services and private providers now have the tools to do this job, they need to do this job and can be held properly accountable.'

Dr James Robertson, a GP representing Sefton LMC, gave a speech to delegates arguing that represented ‘an ideal opportunity to emphasise the pivotal role of GPs in coordinating the primary healthcare team and to place GPs centre stage in managing community services at a locality level.'

He said: ‘It's time to stop complaining about how other people change our services as if we can't do anything about it, because we can. Transforming Community Services is an opportunity for change for the good.'

Ultimately the motion was passed, after GPC member Dr Nigel Watson urged the conference to support the motion, which ‘is very much on the GPC's agenda.'

Changes to community services, such as antenatal services, have 'fragmented care' warn LMCs