Public health specialists will be key to fair rationing, BMA says

Public health specialists will be key to ensuring GP commissioners ration services fairly and balance individual and populations needs, the BMA has said.

Dr Vautrey warned the plans could cause 'chaos' if implemented at the same time as practice boundaries were removed

These specialists should also engage with the public when deciding on how to prioritise funding and act as honest brokers, allowing doctors to act in the best interest of individual patients, the BMA says.

In September, GP revealed the GPC's concerns over government plans to hand rationing decisions from NICE to GPs. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned the plans could cause 'chaos' for practices if implemented at the same time as practice boundaries were removed. The government is expected to launch a consultation on changes to NICE's role later this week.

A position statement from the BMA sets out the role public health doctors should play in supporting GP commissioners to ration fairly. It says that public health specialists will need core competencies to sustain health services within a cash-limited system.

‘This function must also deal with the issues of the relative importance of treatment for different conditions or groups of patients within an overall cash-limited system,’ the statement says.

‘This role of HCPH as honest broker will be key to protecting the ability of GPs and hospital specialists to continue to act and to be seen to act in the best interests of their individual patients.’

The statement adds: ‘The BMA believes that it is essential that the key role of the specialist in Health Care Public Health is clearly understood within the whole of the medical profession and by government, and proper provision made for its place in support of GP commissioning.’

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