Editorial: DH throws away the goodwill of GPs

Today (1 April) CCGs take over responsibility from PCTs in England.

Clinically led and with GPs at their heart, this idea was pivotal to the Health and Social Care Act and recognises how crucial to the success of NHS reforms the GP profession is.

At the time of writing, full details of the 2013/14 GMS contract deals for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were unclear, but in the English deal, there appears to be little recognition of how important the profession is to the coalition government's ambitions for the NHS.

Below, Professor David Colin-Thome, former national director for primary care in England, describes how general practice is, and will continue to be, the engine room of the NHS - undertaking 80% of all clinical consultations at 10% of the cost.

In a letter to GP (page 24), Dr Peter Holden, a GPC negotiator writing in a personal capacity, explains GPs' key role as 'highly skilled risk managers'.

Our in-depth look at what the 2013/14 GMS detail means for you (pages six and nine) sees accountants warning that partners' profits may be reduced because of a combination of a tougher QOF and changes to NHS superannuation.

The DH's embarrassing U-turn over the wording of the competition element of the reforms reveals an inability at the very heart of government to articulate adequately what it intends.

Is the DH even aware that it has thrown away the goodwill of the profession? A glance at this issue's letters page or at comments on GPonline.com would reveal it. Dr Holden even warns: 'Goodbye any GP co-operation, Mr Hunt.'

Not all GPs will feel this way and, indeed, there are those leading CCGs who still remain hopeful that they can make a difference. But the coalition government's rejection of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body advice and the very minor contract concessions offered have surely permanently damaged the way in which it is now viewed by the majority of GPs.

At a time when it should have been lubricating the cogs in the primary care engine room of the NHS, the DH's ability to find spanners to throw into the works now casts doubt over the likelihood of success for its reforms.

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