The GPC’s position supports the government’s view, outlined in the White Paper, that GP contracts should be held by the new NHS Commissioning Board.
The GPC’s line further divides the leading GP organisations about the best way to oversee GP contracts.
Earlier this month the NHS Confederation and the National Association of Primary Care called for the contracts to be held, or at least overseen by GP consortia.
But GPC chairman Dr Buckman said it would be ‘quite a problem’ for local GPs to hold the primary care contract with other local GP colleagues. ‘Clearly, one office somewhere in England can’t be the place that looks at what GPs are doing. We are not advocating that and neither are the department,' he said.
‘There has to be some arrangement that enables contracts to be observed, but we think bringing it down to inter-personal level, where the risk of conflict of interest, confused roles or accusations of an inter-personal nature are things we would not want to see encouraged.’
Dr Buckman said the GPC will be putting out further guidance on how conflict of interest issues could be managed, as well as around how practices ‘get onto consortia’. He said: ‘There are two obvious areas where we believe we should be issuing guidance and we intend to do so.’
Meanwhile, the GPC has welcomed the government’s plans invite GP consortia to bid to become 'pathfinder' organisations, taking on budgets early next year.
Dr Buckman said the idea that somebody goes first and tries out the policy is ‘perfectly reasonable’ and will allow the government to see whether they should slow down with the policy. ‘I’m happier with them trying it than not because at least you might find out what the bumps [in the policy] are,' he said.
‘The more you consider something… the more likely to are to get it right at the end. If you just do it from within a structure from above, there is every risk it won’t work. If you try it out … that is a much better scientific endeavour.’
GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpual added: ‘The government should use this opportunity to learn from the Pathfinder sites. To learn both what works and also what may not be working. The government should be open to changing its policies according to the lessons from these Pathfinders.’