In addition, contracts should not conflict with patient care and NHS services should be providers of choice, the GPC has argued.
The committee also believes that patient involvement must be integral to the work of consortia and that consortia must be committed to reducing health inequality.
The principles are laid out in the GPC's first position statement on GP commissioning since the publication of the health White Paper 'Liberating the NHS'.
Commenting on the White Paper, GPC chairman Laurence Buckman said: ‘Even though there is still little detail about how commissioning will work we know that many Primary Care Trusts are pushing ahead trying to make arrangements. We are therefore producing a series of documents aimed at helping GPs during this critical phase.’
He added: ‘Under the White Paper plans GPs will be asked to take responsibility, through consortia, of a large proportion of the NHS budget, however, their first responsibility should still always be to their patient. If GP commissioning is to work these are the principles that we think all involved should adhere to.’
Dr Buckman said that, if GP commissioning were to bring real change and benefit to patients and the NHS, then time needs to be given to planning how it should work, based on the principles the GPC has outlined.
'I would urge GPs to resist pressure to move too quickly, send questions and concerns to us and keep an eye on the BMA website as we will be producing practical guidance on a regular basis,' he said.