Editorial: Practices must stake their claim in CCGs

In April, CCGs will commission GP services jointly with NHS England for the first time, and this issue of GP features the exclusive results of a survey of the profession about their attitudes towards co-commissioning.

Our previous edition featured an interview with GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul, in which he urged practices to 'stake their claim' as CCG members (GPs are winning the battle for new funding, GP, 12 January).

It seems a long time since the UK LMCs last year voted that CCGs should not co-commission GP contracts because of unacceptable conflicts of interest and the risk of undermining credibility.

Our survey finds that attitudes appear to be softening since then, although the majority of GPs still oppose the plans.

Performance management is the area where GPs are least enthusiastic about increased CCG involvement, but it is in designing/commissioning new enhanced services and commissioning local QOF alternatives where popularity is highest.

As Dr Nagpaul said, CCGs have the power to make sure work shifted out of hospitals is matched by resources and it is in this regard that GP would back the GPC chairman's urging practices to 'stake their claim' with CCGs.

The danger is that in the pursuit of much-needed funding, practices become overworked. The BMA guidance on how to refuse unfunded work, published earlier this month, is welcome.

Co-commissioning will soon be a reality and it is right to warn of the workload implications that could remove GPs from the frontline, and of the possibility of large practices having increasing sway with their CCGs.

But now is the time for practices to become more involved in their CCGs, to ensure they receive the increases in funding they deserve.

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