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GPC alarm over ‘unacceptable’ micro-managing of GPs by commissioning groups

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has said he is ‘increasingly alarmed' by the manner in which some clinical commissioning groups are being set up and run, in the GPC's harshest assessment yet of the progress of the Government's NHS reforms.

In a letter to the profession today, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman warned some clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were using ‘untried and unacceptable measures' to performance-manage colleagues, and said there was only ‘a limited window of opportunity left' for the profession to influence the development of commissioning.


Dr Buckman's intervention comes after Pulse recently revealed that 95% of GPs appointed to the boards of CCGs have not faced a contested election, amid claims of a ‘jobs for the boys' culture and widespread disengagement among grassroots general practice.

Dr Buckman said: ‘I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the manner in which some CCGs are being established and are operating. There is a limited window of opportunity left for us to influence the development of CCGs.'

He went on to outline the GPC's main areas of concern, including a lack of ‘any adequate democratic opportunity' in some areas and LMCs being ‘sidelined and ignored'. Download the letter here.

The GPC is also worried that in some areas, CCG board members have put in place ‘untried and unacceptable measures to micro-manage practices, irrespective of the views of local GPs', and expressed fears that CCGs will only be authorised by the NHS Commissioning Board where they ‘bear a remarkable resemblance to PCTs'.

Dr Buckman said the GPC continued to hold wider doubts over the health bill, particularly around the increase of competition through the enforced roll-out of ‘any qualified provider'. The GPC ‘remain seriously concerned' that potential incentives or financial reward for commissioning – such as the quality premium - will damage the doctor-patient relationship, he said.

He added: ‘Vested interests need to be removed as do actions which do not improve patient outcomes. CCGs and PCTs need to work with LMCs, following the example we have seen in areas where there is constructive working. This is the only way that positive changes will be made.'

Download the letter here.