RCGP leaders still doubt NHS reforms

RCGP leaders are still expressing serious concerns about the design and implementation of the NHS reforms.

Professor Mike Pringle: among RCGP leaders who remain doubtful about NHS reforms
Professor Mike Pringle: among RCGP leaders who remain doubtful about NHS reforms

As the final preparations were being made for the college’s annual conference, which starts in Glasgow today, Professor Mike Pringle, Professor Clare Gerada, and Dr Steve Mowle were calling for detailed scrutiny of the process.

RCGP chair Professor Gerada said the college’s original concerns remained regarding the pace and extent of the reforms and the risk of fragmentation.

‘We will support our GP colleagues to make whatever happens work, but we are looking at the wrong end of the telescope. We should be looking at provider reform, supported by sensible commissioning.

‘The CCGs are too small to do the work. We need larger CCGs with much larger populations and a focus on provider reform.’

RCGP vice chair Dr Mowle said he was concerned that GPs leading the reforms could be overwhelmed by carrying out the CCG authorisation process while maintaining services.

‘The CCG leaders are enthusiasts but even they might have underestimated just how enormous the agenda is,’ he said.

‘The senior doctors doing it now are early adopters and will probably step down in two years. We need to think about succession planning. What will happen when they go?’

Dr Mowle is also concerned that CCGs might not be properly connecting with their own GPs. ‘The important thing is how well they engage with local GPs. It’s a two-way street but those CCGs that are not engaging will really have to run to catch up.’

RCGP president-elect Professor Pringle plans to monitor the new system closely: ‘The quality of the patient experience is not just about what CCGs have bought from secondary care, it’s about how the whole system operates.

‘CCGs have potential to draw together the entire medical system. But that’s a big ask and we at the college want to know whether they are capable of doing it.

‘So we will want to hear about the experiences of GPs, whether they are being involved, and whether they feel their colleagues are working in a co-ordinated way.’

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