Chris Lancelot on ... Practice-Based Commissioning

How is practice-based commissioning (PBC) doing in your area?

Are you ahead of the game? Our group has met frequently, taking up many hours of medical time. Consequently it has paid large amounts in expenses to doctors and practice managers.

And of course we've got a lot of statistics - in fact, we're drowning in them. During most weeks I receive two or three emails from our PBC manager, each with multiple attachments of densely typed spreadsheets and pretty coloured graphs. My practice manager is drowning in paperwork and statistics (all of which need intensive checking) and is quietly losing the will to live.

But doesn't it look impressive? Don't you get the feeling that we are running the health service - in charge at last, doing the right thing? Actually, no. NHS data are simply not dependable. Although the NHS collects vast amounts of detailed information it has ignored the first rule of statistics, which is that data have to be consistently accurate before any conclusions can be drawn from them.

And the data are anything but acceptable. Our practice's listed hospital activity includes large numbers of patients who aren't ours. Other patients have been double-counted; or incorrectly logged as having undergone procedures which were never performed; or recorded as being admitted for far longer than they actually were in hospital. This immediately begs the question: even if we do manage to reduce our referrals under PBC, how are we going to prove it if the statistics are so unreliable?

I doubt whether our PBC group will actually achieve any savings: so far all we seem to do is endlessly discuss protocols without getting anything practical done. In all the time we have spent working on PBC hardly anything has been put in place that improves patient care or delivers it more economically. All we get are increasingly strident calls to refer less, as each day we go a little bit more into the red.

PBC is delivering everything I predicted and nothing that the politicians desired. It is a waste of time, money and effort: it introduces yet another layer of officialdom; but worst of all, the huge amount of time it absorbs takes highly qualified GPs away from their real job of patient care.

However, it does produce some nice graphs: and all in bright colours, too.

Dr Lancelot is a GP from Lancashire. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com .

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Government must show evidence behind PPE strategy, warns BMA

Government must show evidence behind PPE strategy, warns BMA

Chronic shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the NHS during the...

Viewpoint: Bullying is a silent epidemic within the NHS

Viewpoint: Bullying is a silent epidemic within the NHS

There is a lack of training in general practice around understanding bullying, says...

HRT prescriptions lower in most deprived areas of England, study finds

HRT prescriptions lower in most deprived areas of England, study finds

Prescriptions for HRT are 29% lower in GP practices in England's most deprived areas...

Map: Which parts of England are most reliant on GPs aged over 55?

Map: Which parts of England are most reliant on GPs aged over 55?

More than two-fifths of the full-time equivalent (FTE) GP workforce is aged over...

Government outlines PPE supply plans as GPs remain in dark over reimbursement

Government outlines PPE supply plans as GPs remain in dark over reimbursement

The government has outlined plans to provide 'an uninterrupted supply' of PPE during...

Four in five GPs report heavy workload as COVID-19 second wave builds

Four in five GPs report heavy workload as COVID-19 second wave builds

Four in five GPs say their practice is currently facing levels of workload that are...