Dr Jonathan Griffiths: I'm a CCG chairman and a frontline GP

I am a GP. I am also chairman of NHS Vale Royal CCG. I have worked in Winsford, Cheshire, since 2005, first as a full-time partner, now half-time. This means I work two full GP days each week.

These are busy days and my CCG colleagues will tell you they don't generally get any responses to their emails on those days.

I have mopped vomit from the floor of a patient's lounge while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I have talked to people about their cancer, treated them in their final illness, been there to certify their death and spent time with bereaved relatives. I have treated desperately depressed patients and those with drug and alcohol problems. This is what a GP does - frontline general practice.

LMCs have expressed concern at plans for CCGs to co-commission primary care. The main problem is how to overcome the conflict of interest of GPs commissioning services from themselves. There are, however, a number of significant benefits.

I was disappointed to read a quote in a GPonline.com article from Nottinghamshire LMC chairman Dr Greg Place, who said: 'Our colleagues working in CCGs are not frontline GPs any longer. They have divorced themselves from the mainstream.'

Really? I'm afraid I take exception to that. I may only work two days a week in surgery, but when I'm there, I'm on the frontline. I assume you would not suggest a GP who has chosen to work half-time for any other reason was not a frontline GP?

So if this is not about the hours I work or patients I see, what is it about? Presumably, my approach, my experience, my understanding. I agree I have a different perspective. I am a GP commissioner. Above all, I try to have a patient perspective. That is surely what this needs to be about?

Let's have the conversations about the risks of CCGs co-commissioning primary care, but let's not turn this into a wedge between GPs and CCGs.

GPs working with CCGs understand general practice and patients' needs. CCGs could do more to engage with GPs, I know I could, but please, while I am still in the business of mopping up vomit, don't tell me I'm not frontline.

  • Dr Griffiths is a Cheshire GP and chairman of NHS Vale Royal CCG. He writes regularly for our sister site, insidecommissioning.co.uk

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