GPs should be responsible for commissioning out-of-hours

LMC representatives believe GPs should be responsible for commissioning out-of-hours services, despite a warning from one representative that this could lead to GPs providing the service as a last resort.

A motion calling for GPs to have a central role in commissioning of out-of-hours services divided representatives at the LMCs conference in London on Friday. But it was narrowly carried, with 52% of delegates in favour and 48% against.  

Dr Phil Garnett, a member of North Yorkshire LMC, warned that taking on commissioning of out-of-hours services would be like taking on a ‘poison chalice' that will inevitably lead to GPs providing the service as a last resort.

He said: ‘If GPs do take on responsibly for commissioning these services, given the nature of GPs they will inevitably become the providers of last resort.'

But Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMC, said the government has ‘reaffirmed several times' that commissioning is not the same as providing as a last resort.

‘Any negotiations [with government] will have to see those things separately,' he said.

Meanwhile the conference also voted for a motion that labelled extended opening hours a ‘failed political whim', and outlined the service has failed in its remit as it is ‘overwhelming used' by patients who could attend in normal opening hours.

A motion that called for all doctors who practice in the UK to have an ‘acceptable command of the English language' was also passed unanimously.

Click here for all the latest news from the LMCs Conference 2010

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