Exclusive: Sharp rise in GPs quitting CCG board roles

The number of GPs quitting CCG board posts is rising sharply as fears over bureaucracy, rationing and rising workload mount, a GP magazine investigation suggests.

Dr Deborah Colvin: invest in primary care
Dr Deborah Colvin: invest in primary care

A total of 51 GPs quit CCG board roles between April and August this year, data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 186 of England’s 211 CCGs show.

The figures show a marked acceleration in GPs withdrawing from CCG roles compared with the previous year, with a total of 68 departures recorded in the whole 2012/13 financial year.

A total of 160 GPs have resigned from CCGs and their forerunners since 2010, the data obtained by GP show. Only six resignations were recorded for 2010/11, rising to 35 the year after.

Some CCGs have faced up to three GPs resigning from their board this year. These include Newbury and District and Fylde and Wyre CCGs.

Surrey and Sussex LMC’s Dr Jerry Luke resigned as clinical director of Crawley CCG in May over rationing fears.

‘I think it is likely that every CCG will have one GP resign this year,’ he said.

He cited rationing, the rise in bureaucracy involved in commissioning coupled with increased practice workload as reasons for the walkouts.

‘The primary duty is to come in financial balance and GPs are faced with a stark choice, either you cut services or break your terms of service,’ he said.

‘There are very few areas in the NHS that haven’t been cut back already and any more would be frontline services.’

Most CCGs did not provide reasons for the resignations. For those that did, they included retirements and relocations.

Dr Luke warned that commissioning GPs could lose their new roles after the 2015 general election. ‘When CCGs are replaced by the next big idea the GPs will be without a job and there is no redundancy package for them,’ he warned.

‘They need to look closely at what their return rights are for their partnership.’

There are currently 76 vacancies for CCG board members, 37 of which are for GPs.

GPs make up less than half of CCG board members, the investigation found. Of 2,720 board members 1,188 are GPs.

City and Hackney LMC chairwoman Dr Deborah Colvin called for more investment in primary care to ensure clinical commissioning is successful.

‘What I am hearing from GPs is mostly about the burden of clinical and commissioning work. It is really a big problem.’

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs on CCGs were under ‘huge pressure’ from rising workload and a lack of resources.

An NHS England spokeswoman said some turnover was normal in developing organisations. She added: ‘It is for each GP to determine the extent to which they engage in the formal roles of running a CCG.’

* Named GPs smack of Dr Finlay and are a surefire votewinner

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