It was with some concern that I read your recent article about the fact the NHS Alliance had retracted from an earlier position on GP commissioning (‘Leading GPs get cold feet on DH commissioning plans’, pulsetoday.co.uk/news).
I, as chair of the National Association of Primary Care, was also quoted in the article, but in case of any confusuion, I wanted to make clear that our position has not changed.
Quite the contrary. I consider this policy development has the potential to transform primary care and the rest of the NHS, through raising quality standards, eliminating waste and improving our responsiveness to patients.
When I said I backed a staggered rollout, I was attempting to highlight the importance of a systematic approach to the implementation of the scheme, in contrast to practice-based commissioning, the implementation of which was at best patchy and haphazard.
Practices in PBC were left without data, adequate management support and IT systems to maximise the potential of the policy. I, therefore, had in mind a continuing development process for each tranche of commissioning groups, which go live, starting, possibly, with early adopters and enthusiasts, followed by others within a prescribed time frame.
Negotiations and training both of primary and secondary care will be essential – all this will take a little time. Some locations will be much more advanced than others, hence the need to prepare those who are further behind the mark.
Many of the NAPC’s membership have been preparing for this point and will be among the very early adopters. There is absolutely no change of heart, nor cold feet. We see the policy as the opportunity of the decade to make the improvements and savings we now so badly need.
I wholeheartedly and unreservedly commend GP Commissioning to my fellow primary care professionals.
Dr Johnny Marshall, chair, NAPC
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