GPs being 'overwhelmed' by work

GPs offering leadership in commissioning roles are finding their workload 'overwhelming', the DoH's commissioning czar heard.

Professor Howe: 'Good work does not get done in a hurry'

Dame Barbara Hakin, England’s national managing director of commissioning development, took questions from delegates about GPs’ role in CCGs.

Professor Amanda Howe, the RCGP’s honorary secretary, told Dame Barbara: ‘I’m very worried about the workload pressures. I look at my colleagues who are already in clusters and are keen to offer clinical leadership and they are finding the workload overwhelming in spite of the PCT managers around them.’

She added that GPs needed more capacity in the system to do all the things that were being asked of them.

‘Good work doesn’t get done in a hurry,’ added Professor Howe. She worried that GPs might be rushed into signing off care pathways because of the ‘massive agenda’.

Dame Barbara replied: ‘There’s no easy answer. We’re trying to increase GP numbers but that will take a long time to come through.’

She added that there were similar conversations about a lack of GP capacity with primary care groups in the 90s. ‘It’s a big ask for general practice. I’m sure there will be a lot of people setting it up who actually work above and beyond the call of duty.’

Dr Liz Angier, a clinical assistant in allergy and chairwoman of the RCGP faculty in Sheffield, was concerned that CCGs would have a difficult task commissioning all the different types of services that PCTs currently do.

Dame Barbara said that CCGs would have the same responsibilities as PCTs but that CCGs would be able to draw on much of the clinical and managerial talent that had been in local PCT areas for years.

Dr David Jenner, a Devon GP and CCG lead, said the majority of GPs wanted to be involved with commissioning but not to take full accountability for it.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said GPs did not shirk accountability, it was present in consultations with patients. She asked whether it was right for GPs to be accountable for something they had not been trained to do or felt there was a mandate for.

Dame Barbara added that the theory behind commissioning was to address the drift away from clinical leadership in recent decades.

Neil Durham

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