GPC and NHS Alliance clash over timeframes for setting up consortia

The GPC and NHS Alliance have clashed over the timeframes for GPs to set up commissioning consortia.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon (pictured) urged delegates at the NHS Alliance/APEX North East Practice-based Commissioning (PBC) Regional Event on Tuesday to get GP consortia up and running as soon as possible.

This comes a week after GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman advised GPs to not rush into anything’ outlining that GPs should not break into consortia straight away.

Speaking at the event, Dr Dixon said GP consortia need to ‘get off the ground as quickly as possible’.

He said: ‘Time is also of essence... As with flying, we will need many flying hours before we are confident and prepared to go solo in 2013.'

Dr Buckman said that we need to understand what the NAPC means by getting into consortia.

He said: 'The NAPC may be talking about GPs starting to talk with other GPs about how to do things, or it might be talking about forming legal structures.'

Dr Buckman said if the NAPC meant the former then this would be aligned with the GPC view. But, he warned that if NAPC was encouraging GPs to form legal structures before full details have been released by the government then this could end up 'wasted activity'.

He said: 'We need to be clear about what the NAPC means, otherwise you may be creating a disagreement between us that doesn't exist.'

Meanwhile, Dr Dixon also outlined the importance of getting the details of future commissioning arrangements right.

He said: ‘It will be crucial, for instance, to ensure we have proper governance, especially where GP commissioning decisions might advantage providing practices within a GP consortium and fuel self interest.

‘However, we must make the system fluid so that we can allow future GP consortia to carry out "make or buy" decisions within reason as a means of rapid redesign and moving services from secondary to primary care. The processes of procurement must be streamlined so that the right decisions can be made and implemented quickly. Otherwise, clinicians and patients will walk away.’

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