Removing practice boundaries will undermine consortia, says GPC

Scrapping practice boundaries would make it impossible for GP consortia to provide care across set geographical areas, the GPC has warned.

Responding to DoH proposals for consortia functions, the GPC also warned that consortia were being developed to provide a list of functions that had yet to be confirmed in legislation.

The GPC said it had ‘significant concerns’ that the DoH expected consortia to secure ‘continuous improvements’ in the quality of services for patients, despite the significant efficiency savings they were expected to make.

It said it would not be possible for accountable officers to be responsible for ensuring a consortium delivers ‘continuous improvements in quality and proper stewardship of public money’.

‘Given the current financial climate there would be accountable officers who fail this duty for reasons beyond their control,' the GPC guidance said. 'We suggest that it would be more realistic for the officer to "act with a view to ensuring" that this duty is carried out.’

The GPC also warned that there was a ‘lack of clarity’ about how consortia would operate geographically.

Consortia boundaries could overlap, and it was ‘unclear’ which practices would have responsibility for the these overlapping areas,' the GPC warned. It said the problem was further complicated by the plans to remove practice boundaries.

‘If practices cannot have defined boundaries, it is unclear how it would be possible to have geographical definitions for consortia,’ the GPC response said.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘We have a number of concerns about this document which have still to be addressed. Not least of which is that it implies that the functions listed will become law, when, in fact, they could easily still be modified.

‘GP consortia leaders should therefore treat it with caution and not follow its lead by assuming that the functions it assigns are going to be enshrined in law.’

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