NHS should collaborate not compete, RCGP president says

NHS reform should focus on boosting collaboration not competition, according to RCGP president Dr Iona Heath.

Dr Heath: lack of consultation in the development of the government’s plans
Dr Heath: lack of consultation in the development of the government’s plans

Writing in the BMJ, Dr Heath said that many of the White Paper’s proposals seemed ‘misguided and precipitate’. Clinicians are tired of competing and experiences from Scotland and Wales show that rejecting competition does not harm healthcare provision, she argues.

Earlier this month, RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said the White Paper was a once-a-career opportunity for many GPs, who had seen the profession sidelined in the past.

Professor Field has also said the White Paper ‘proposes what we have been calling for for years - greater involvement and leadership from GPs’.

Dr Heath said that the government’s enthusiasm for GP commissioning may not be due to raised respect for the profession.

‘The readiness with which the government wishes to redeploy GPs may reflect the traditional undervaluing of the clinical task of general practice,’ she suggests.

She questioned the lack of consultation in the development of the government’s plans, asking: ‘Why has there been no open public debate about the creeping privatisation of provision and the ever expanding role of management consultants and large commercial firms?'

'Why the apparent decision to prioritise general practitioners in the hierarchy of decision making, and why the determination to persist with the quasi-market and the purchaser-provider split after the "20 years of costly failure" so graphically described by the parliamentary health select committee and in the face of widespread opposition from professionals and citizens alike?’

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