Warner is first minister to address LMCs event

A health minister will address the LMCs conference for the first time next week.

Lord Warner is expected to speak on Thursday (15 June), which is the first day of the conference in London, before taking questions.

This is the first year that the LMCs have invited a minister to address them and follows a resolution last year that 'in the interests of open government, the relevant minister of health should be invited to attend the annual conference of LMCs and be required to answer questions from the floor'.

Questions will be submitted before lunch to ensure a spread of topics.

Lord Warner's appearance follows health secretary Patricia Hewitt's headline-grabbing address to the Royal College of Nursing Congress in Bournemouth in April, during which she was heckled (GP, 5 May).

This year's LMCs' agenda is unlikely to make happy reading for Lord Warner.

LMC representatives will debate whether to demand the resignations of two senior DoH officials.

One motion 'demands the resignation of the CMO for his inept handling of the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccination programme'.

The GPC was unhappy that it was not consulted about proposed changes that meant children would be given the pneu-mococcal vaccine from some point in 2006/7 and that the scheduling of the Hib and meningitis C vaccines would also change (GP, 17 February).

Another motion 'demands the resignation of Dr David Salisbury for his failure to apologise publicly for his remarks that GPs were to blame for the shortage of flu vaccines by immunising the worried well'.

Dr Salisbury, the DoH's head of immunisation, sent out a letter to GPs last year blaming them for wasting flu vaccine on treating the worried well instead of conserving it for use in the elderly and at-risk patients.

Practice-based commissioning is the subject of two opposing motions.

The first says that commissioning exists as a mechanism to shift the blame for NHS inadequacy from primary care organisations to practices.

It wants the GPC actively to discourage GPs from commissioning.

The second says that commissioning 'has the potential to improve patient care and result in more cost-effective care within the NHS'.

neil.durham@haynet.com

- Opinion, page 21.

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