GPs will quit CCGs if red tape not cut

Enthusiastic GPs will drop out of clinical commissioning work unless the government cuts bureaucracy, experts fear.

Dr Stoate: GP hearts sank when they were told of bureaucratic hurdles (Photograph: Children with Cancer UK)
Dr Stoate: GP hearts sank when they were told of bureaucratic hurdles (Photograph: Children with Cancer UK)

Bexley GP Dr Howard Stoate, the former Labour MP for Dartford, Kent, said a 'heavy touch' approach from the government risked killing the NHS reforms.

Dr Stoate, now chairman of Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told the all-party parliamentary group on primary care and public health last month that GPs' hearts sank when he explained the bureaucratic hurdles that his CCG faced.

If the CCG could 'get through authorisation smoothly', GPs' optimism could be restored, he said. 'It depends how the government wants to play it. If the government wants a light touch, it can work; if it insists on a heavy touch, it will kill it.'

Dr Paul Watson, NHS Commissioning Board regional director of Midlands and the East, told the meeting that GPs' time in CCGs should be used wisely.

They should be able to use their 'clinical nous' to make changes rather than dealing with contracts and administrative issues, he said.

However, he warned: 'At the end of the day, these are public bodies. They are statutory bodies, they work for you and me, and they use our money. In the Midlands and East region, we will be putting about £20bn of public money through 61 CCGs, and there has to be some proper governance around that.'

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG board member Dr David Roberts said commissioners must help GPs to cut their workload.

'One of the ways to get clinical engagement with GPs is to enable them to work more smartly, to enable them to use practice staff better,' he said.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman, also speaking at the event, said GPs would not obstruct CCGs but were not enthusiastic. 'I suspect the majority feel neutral and where that happens they won't stop it or spoil it, it will just be another health authority.

'We are in a position where quite a good idea has got soured up and a lot of people are very apathetic,' he said.

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