Many GPs don’t want commissioning - but will be persuaded if patient care improves, doctor says

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MANY GPs are still uneasy about a radical overhaul of the NHS that came into effect last week - but will be persuaded if they see an improvement in patient care.

That is the view of Dr Geraldine Linehan, a member of the governing body of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has taken responsibility for the county’s £850million NHS budget.

The change means it is now GPs who will be responsible for designing health care services for a population of 830,000 people in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and parts of Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire, as well as deciding how the multi-million pound budget is spent.

GP commissioning has caused controversy in the medical profession, with doctors like Brendan Boyle, of Huntingdon’s Acorn Surgery, saying there were “mixed” feelings about giving practitioners control over finances and getting rid of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

“There are many GPs who absolutely don’t want this and consultants as well,” said Dr Linehan. “Lots of them are saying: ‘It isn’t my job.’

“However if they can see an improvement in care they will want to do it. That’s the motivator.”

She said there were many advantages to the CCG over the PCTs, not least because it would in effect give GPs more power over how services are run.

“Before GPs were involved in decision-making but it was very much as an add-on,” Dr Linehan said, adding that the changes meant they were now integrated into the process.

She also said that she had worked from the “basic principle that we won’t allow this to have GPs taken away from their core job”.

Dr Linehan added: “It’s not going to make a big difference to their jobs as they won’t be spending ages in meetings. Only a few people will be getting stuck in with that.

“Doctors are primarily interested in patients. They just want the care to be good.”

Bringing doctors into the CCG also means it will be easier to share expertise across the NHS in the area, she said.

Andy Vowles, chief operating officer of the CCG, said: “The way CCGs operate is new in that GPs and other health clinicians are at the core of the team who will be making the decisions for patients.

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far but know that we will need to work hard to ensure that we commission good quality health care within limited budgets, as well as ensuring that we improve the outcomes that patients experience.”

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