GPC calls for more detail on White Paper plans

Only detailed talks with the DoH will determine whether commissioning plans are an opportunity or a threat for the profession, GP leaders say.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman (pictured) said the committee had not been consulted prior to the publication of the health White Paper Liberating the NHS or related consultation documents.

‘It’s what governments have consistently done for over 20 years – they have gone to talk to anyone but the representative organisation of general practice,’ he said.

‘The fact they framed this without reference to us is up to them. We’re the people they’ll have to negotiate with.’

Dr Buckman said the GPC had not discussed plans for ‘quality premiums’ with the DoH. Healthcare Republic understands that the DoH may fund the payments, which will be paid to consortia if they perform well on commissioning and use of NHS resources, from existing GP income.

Asked whether the GPC would accept such a deal, Dr Buckman said: ‘If it’s money taken out of the contract, it depends what it’s taken out of, and what you have to do to get it back. If it’s new money, that looks interesting.’

A DoH spokeswoman said how the payments would be funded remained 'subject to discussion'.

Dr Buckman said the White Paper and commissioning consultation had ‘left GPs with a lot more questions’.

GPs should begin planning to form consortia, but could do little more than talk until further details of DoH policy emerged, he said.

He urged GPs to encourage PCT managers they wanted to work with to ‘stick around’ and not defect to the private sector.

The White Paper ‘could be an opportunity, or could be a threat’, Dr Buckman said. ‘We don’t know. The answer to most questions about all this at the moment is "we don’t know",’ he said.

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Nick Bostock

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