GP consultation skills must be 'beefed up', says GPC chairman

GPs' consultation skills will need to improve as they become the commissioners of NHS services, GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman says.

Dr Buckman: making it compulsory to be part of consortium was ‘a good thing’

Dr Buckman said GPs already practiced ‘shared-decision making’ when referring patients but that this would become more important as they take on commissioning and NHS resources contracts.

‘We are going to have to educate the next generation of GPs to work in a different world – consultation skills are going to have to be beefed up,’ he told the All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care in London.

Dr Buckman was responding to questions on the White Paper from the panel of MPs.

He said he believes consortia will form ‘fairly easily’ along geographic boundaries and that the reforms have 'the potential to save the NHS lots of money.’  

Making it compulsory to be part of consortium was ‘a good thing’ because it prevents groups of practices ‘ganging up on others’, he added.  

But he warned that when practice boundaries are removed and consortia start to differ in the treatments they are prepared to offer, people will start travelling hundreds of miles to see a GP.

‘If your local GP says they can’t afford a drug that could save your life, are you going to grin and bear it or are you going to get on a bus and go and find a GP [and a consortium] that will provide that drug?’

Dr Buckman responded to criticism that the BMA and GPC had been overly cautious in their response to the White Paper. He said they would take up a more robust position when legislation was set out.

‘We don’t know enough about what is proposed to take a position,’ he said.

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