GP walkout fears over Labour plans for CCGs

Commissioning GPs would abandon CCGs if Labour's plan to downgrade them to an advisory role went ahead, GP leaders have warned.

Andy Burnham: vision for the NHS
Andy Burnham: vision for the NHS

The warning came after shadow health secretary Andy Burnham unveiled the party's NHS vision for England if it wins the next general election. Labour would pool the £104bn NHS budget with £15bn in social care funding, he said. Councils would have more power through health and wellbeing boards, with CCGs in a 'clinical advisory role'.

GPs would take a 'more active role' in managing the 'older at-risk' population and keeping them out of hospital. The Payment by Results tariff could be replaced with a 'year-of-care' fee to incentivise providers to deliver more care at home, with greater emphasis on prevention, and NHS organisations would be given 'preferred provider' status.

Mr Burnham also reiterated his pledge not to scrap CCGs.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey and Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said GPs would give up commissioning work if CCGs lost control.

Dr Swinyard said: 'Taking away the power of CCGs takes away their raison d'etre. Any hard-working GPs on CCGs would look at this and say, "Bother this for a game of soldiers.".'

Pooling health and social care budgets risks more NHS cuts, Dr Vautrey claimed.

'It could mean that NHS money would be used to prop up council services, which have been hit harder than healthcare,' he said. 'There is only one pot of money and no suggestion somebody wants to increase resources significantly.'

BMA council member Dr Clive Peedell, a leading critic of the government's NHS reforms, backed Mr Burnham's pledge to make NHS organisations 'preferred providers'.

Dr Peedell, a founder member of the National Health Action party, set up to oppose the Health and Social Care Act, said the plans were 'still quite woolly'. He added that Labour still had work to do to regain the trust of clinicians and the public on the NHS.

Labour will begin a consultation on its plans this month, holding meetings across England until June.

Reaction to Labour proposals

RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada

It was a breath of fresh air to look at how we work together rather than competitively. Health and social care in one big single organisation makes a lot of sense. It makes sense to have the NHS as a preferred provider - on a personal level it is a direction that feels right.


Health secretary Jeremy Hunt

The public will rightly be concerned that despite their promises, Labour plan a massive restructuring of the NHS which takes power away from the doctors and nurses who know their patients best and puts it in the hands of local politicians.


BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter

Andy Burnham is asking exactly the right questions. The big problem is that these questions have to be looked at in the context of the current disruptive reorganisation of the NHS, and funding cuts, both of which make the rational planning of integrated health and social care very difficult.

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