CCGs should help develop general practice, says NHS England official

The man leading NHS England's consultation on the future of general practice says CCGs must play a greater role in developing primary care, warning that GP commissioners' expertise as providers risks being wasted.

Dr Mike Bewick: leading primary care review
Dr Mike Bewick: leading primary care review

Speaking at a conference on GP federations run by Newham CCG and the RCGP, NHS England deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick said the NHS ‘tore itself apart’ with the Health and Social Care Act reforms because PCTs were seen by former health secretary Andrew Lansley ‘as a failure’.

That left problems of ‘friction’, he said, between CCGs and NHS England area teams over general practice development and provision, and the two sides needed to be brought together.

‘There is no reason for CCGs not to move beyond support, to actual development,' he said.

‘CCGs are full of provider GPs who are interested in provision as well as commissioning other services. It is a waste of their expertise not to utilise that.’

It was NHS England area teams, he added, which needed to change most.

Dr Bewick’s consultation, part of the wider NHS Call to Action launched by chief executive Sir David Nicholson last month, asks primary care staff and patients for their views on how general practice can transform in response to ‘increasingly unsustainable pressures’.

Dr Bewick also told the conference his review would not get ‘bogged down’ in prescribing GP contract types.

‘The whole point of the call to action…was to find out where we would get consensus for change.

‘The worst thing we could do right now would be to get bogged down in arguments about what contract we are in. We should be asking "what is the vision we want to achieve, what is the outcome we want to achieve?"’

He added that there were a lot of things needed to change to restore public support for the NHS.

But Londonwide LMCs director of primary care strategy Greg Cairns said the ‘national fixation on transforming primary care, by which is usually meant sorting out general practice, because it is broke, is absolute nonsense’.

Mr Cairns said general practice ‘is not broken, does not need fixing, and is actually bloody good’.

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