GPs could commission maternity services, Lansley hints

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has hinted that GPs may be handed control of maternity services.

Mr Lansley said a decision had not yet been made on maternity services

Addressing an audience of GPs in Merseyside last week, Mr Lansley said he was reconsidering his proposals to commission the service centrally through the proposed NHS Commissioning Board.

'We've had conflicting views on this. I am looking at it now and I will decide. But I haven't made a decision yet,' he said.

Organisations such as the NHS Confederation and the GPC say there is no reason to commission maternity services centrally and believe GPs should be responsible for it. Mr Lansley said maternity is a special case because 'GPs cannot control demand for the service'.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives - which supports centrally commissioned maternity services - said she would be 'extremely surprised' if the government reversed 'such a well thought through policy'.

It is proposed that the NHS Commissioning Board will also organise specialist, pharmacy, primary care and ophthamology services.

A DoH spokeswoman said the there had been 'lots of different views' on maternity services and a decision will be made shortly.

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