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GP commissioning concerns 'may grow'

GP commissioning concerns 'may grow'

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GP concerns over NHS reforms may grow this year thanks to CCG authorisation difficulties, it is claimed.

Chief Executive  of the King's Fund, Professor Chris Ham said the majority of GPs have no  opinion on clinical commissioning "one way or the other", preferring to "keep  their heads down and focus on their clinical commitments".

The  government's controversial Health and Social Care Bill finally passed into law  after gaining Royal Assent on the 27 March.

The  legislation – introduced into Parliament in July 2010 – aims to reduced  bureaucracy in the NHS by handing over £65bn of public money to GPs to  commission care and services for their local population.

Londonwide  LMC CEO Dr Michelle Drage said GPs are now "resigned" to the changes happening  in the health service and will "make the service work".

Professor  Ham is slightly more pessimistic.

He  doubts a 'let's just get on with it' mentality will evolve as the CCG  authorisation phase – due to begin this summer – will cause GP concerns over  the reforms to grow.

"The  government has got a real job on its hands to win the hearts and minds of the  GP community because they are going to be central to making the reforms work,"  he said.

Dr Drage  said while the government claims it has tried to offer GPs reassurance over their  fears of the legislation; there is still little confidence in its 'no privitisation' argument.

"GPs  need to see really effective change in the way commissioning is done, so when  patients come to see their GP, their experience and outcomes in both secondary  and community care are joined up, more humane and better communicated," she  said.

Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said GPs still hold a degree of  sceptism over what they are being asked to do under the legislation, the  resources they will have to do it, and how much freedom they will be given to  commission.

"Since  the passing of the bill, GPs have been hit by the full realisation of the task  in hand," she said.

"This,  coupled with their already enormous workload, means they are heaving under the  pressure."

Professor  Ham said CCG leaders must ensure they do not get too far ahead of the 'rank and  file' GPs who are more concerned with focusing on their clinical work.

"If the  2% of GPs tasked with setting up CCGs do not do what they have to do to ensure  all GPs are on board with clinical commissioning, it will be a recipe for  disaster," he said.

Furthermore,  Dr Drage fears CCGs will not be given the freedom they need to make the necessary changes  to the system – forcing them to remain 'parochial'.

By Louise Naughton

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