GPs need 'power of recall' over consortia leads

Practices should have the power to sack GP consortia leaders to prevent the groups turning into mini-PCTs, LMC leaders have said.

Dr Balmer: 'We are not planning to set up little dictatorships or mini-PCTs with doctors at their head.'
Dr Balmer: 'We are not planning to set up little dictatorships or mini-PCTs with doctors at their head.'

Essex LMCs is holding a consultation to define the relationship between GP practices and consortia in the absence of clear national guidance.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs, said the consultation would focus on accountability and rules of engagement between GPs and the commissioning groups.

A draft discussion document obtained by GP, called Developing commissioning consortia in Essex: Accountability and rules of engagement with practices, has been sent to every practice in the county. It recommended that member practices have the 'power of recall' over consortia leaders, to guard against them becoming 'out of touch with the views and needs of members'.

This power 'allows the leadership to be recalled following an extraordinary general meeting called by at least 75 per cent of the consortium's members', the document said.

'Very little' guidance is available nationally, Dr Balmer said. 'We want to encourage our consortia to set up in a way that will work. We are not planning to set up little dictatorships or mini-PCTs with doctors at their head.'

The document lays out clear guidelines to ensure that 'commissioning consortia should not replicate current PCT arrangements'. Essex LMCs proposes four measures for inclusion in the constitutions of all consortia.

These include recommendations for consortia to hold two meetings a year to discuss practice-level issues; annual meetings open to all local GPs and the public; and annual surveys of practices by the consortia.

Other issues include service level agreements and performance management of practices by consortia. The discussion document also includes proposals for the local 'quality premium': the payment successful consortia will receive.

Essex LMCs will consider responses to the discussion document and agree on final principles for discussion in June.

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