British Medical Association (BMA)
Responding to the publication of the Government's health White Paper, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'The proposals announced in today's white paper will have a substantial impact on the NHS and patients. We are looking forward to discussing the details behind these new initiatives in more depth and playing an active role in the consultations that follow.'
On plans for commissioning of health care, Dr Meldrum said: 'Doctors, and their staff, already take the lead on designing services and innovating new treatments for patients and will be interested in discussing how these roles will be enhanced. They will wish to see how the proposed changes allow them to work collaboratively, and in partnership with their patients, to facilitate improvements in the care pathway and to see unnecessary barriers and bureaucracy removed.'
General Practice Committee (GPC)
Click here to view GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman's reaction to the White Paper
The NHS Alliance welcomed the White Paper and said clarity about accountability, transparency and public involvement would be key.
Chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: ‘This is a unique opportunity for frontline GPs and the managers and other clinicians who work with them to make a real difference to the health of their patients, the services they receive and make the best out of limited resources.’
The National Association of Primary Care (NAPC)
The NAPC also greeted the central role for GPs and said general practice would have to ‘prepare itself to evolve rapidly to embrace the process’.
Chairman Dr Johnny Marshall said: ‘The coalition’s plans provide general practice with a unique opportunity to raise the bar in the commissioning and delivery of care for its patients. The occasion will not present itself again.'
He added: ‘It is vital that primary care clinicians embrace the new world open heartedly to address the clinical and professional challenges ahead.’
However, right-wing think tank Civitas believes the plans could cost the NHS its £20 billion efficiency savings target.
Health director James Gubb said: ‘The NHS is facing the most difficult financial times in its history. Now is not the time for ripping up internal structures yet again on scant evidence base, but for focusing minds on the task ahead and really getting behind the difficult decisions PCTs, as commissioners, will have to make.'
Social Market Foundation
Centre-right think tank Social Market Foundation condemned the changes, saying the White Paper was ‘at best a waste of time, at worst a waste of money’.
David Furness, head of strategic development, said: ‘Commissioning healthcare is very difficult and needs a specialised organisation to do it. And the evidence suggests that small commissioners find it difficult to take on powerful providers and reform services. GP commissioning risks handing real control of the NHS to vested interests on the provider side as GPs simply won’t have the muscle to drive through change.’
Before the White Paper was released RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said the plan was the right direction of travel for the NHS.
Professor Field said: 'It is important that GPs should be leading the NHS at all levels and that we should be the ones making decisions with our patients about their care - but we must be given the appropriate resources and support to do this.'
He added: 'GPs work at the heart of communities; we know our patients and we understand their needs. If this is properly delivered and properly resourced, patients can expect to receive far more personalised services, focused on their individual needs.'
Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of The King's Fund, said: 'Giving GPs responsibility for commissioning care and managing NHS budgets should result in services being more closely aligned with patients' needs. But, while some GPs will seize this opportunity, many others may be reluctant to come forward and lack the skills needed.
'Setting a deadline for GP consortia to take full financial responsibility for commissioning by 2013 is very ambitious - whether this can be achieved will depend on appropriate support being put in place.'
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: 'Nurses will welcome the focus on quality and the move to put patients in the driving seat, however, these radical reforms will not be without risk.
'We welcome the commitment to include nurses alongside GPs in making decisions about local health services and look forward to seeing more detail about how this will be achieved in practice.
'However, in economically challenging times there will be some difficult discussions with patients about their care and what is affordable which has the potential to change the relationship patients have with nurses and doctors.'
Dr Jennifer Dixon, Nuffield Trust director, said: 'It is risky to hand over £70bn of taxpayers' money to around 8,000 general practices. GP commissioning consortia will need huge investment into their management if they are to transform themselves into organisations that are able to deliver and commission - at scale - high quality care for patients, while challenging large hospitals.
'The details of how GP commissioning consortia will be held to account for the use of those budgets, and how their performance as commissioners will be assessed and managed are still to be developed.'
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