Editorial: GPs need more detail on commissioning plans

GPs are highly concerned about the plans for the future of the NHS.

This week's joint GP/Family Doctor Association poll found that half of respondents were worried about the vision set out in the White Paper - a further 22 per cent were 'scared witless'.

It is no surprise GPs are worried. General practice will clearly bear the brunt of the massive changes the NHS is about to embark upon. What's more, there is precious little detail about how these changes will actually work and what impact they will have on practices and GPs' day-to-day working lives.

Even among GPs who are already involved with commissioning there are worries - will their PBC consortium be able to evolve into a new commissioning consortium? What will this entail? Will the work they have done on service redesign still be applicable?

GP representatives are already raising the profession's concerns with the DoH. But, with PCTs in some areas pressing practices into forming consortia, GPs need more detail sooner rather than later so they understand exactly what they are signing up to.

While all this uncertainty is worrying, there are potentially huge opportunities for GPs to lead improvements. And, as Dr Michael Dixon from the NHS Alliance points out, the fact consortia will be based on registered lists could secure the future of GPs as independent contractors.

For GPs to make the most of the White Paper plans, or simply to understand what they mean for their practice, they need expert guidance and support. This is why GP has this week launched its new GP Commissioning section.

Over the coming weeks we aim to demystify some of the issues around commissioning, in particular looking at what the new policy means for you and your practice and providing practical advice and guidance if you want to become more involved.

GPs are set to shape the future of the NHS and we hope to support and inform you as you take on this new role. If you have any comments about the new section email GPletters@haymarket.com.

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