GP consortium chairs are overwhelmingly opposed to any requirement to include NHS consultants on their boards, a survey reveals.
A sample of 20 chairs and chief executives of pathfinder GP consortia unanimously rejected the idea espoused recently by the Prime Minister that hospital doctors should play a bigger role in commissioning.
Consultant involvement would be a serious conflict of interest that would undermine the commissioning process, they say.
In his first major speech since the launch of the ‘listening exercise’ on the Health Bill, David Cameron recently said: “We are listening and we will make substantive changes to improve the reforms, based on what we hear.
“I do not want to pre-empt what those changes will be…But it is clear for example, that when people working in our hospitals hear the term ‘GP commissioning’, they worry it’s only GPs that are going to be involved in making decisions. Now that’s not the case, but I agree we need hospital doctors and nurses to be much more closely engaged in commissioning.”
The BMA and royal colleges agree that there should be more consultant involvement in consortia boards.
Some 18 of the 20 consortia surveyed by Pulse have non-GP representation on their boards, most commonly patients, nurses, practice managers and local council representatives. But only one currently includes a hospital doctor.
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, chair of the Croydon Healthcare Consortium, is quoted as saying: “That would be ridiculous, a total conflict of interest, as consultants are employees of their trusts which are providers. We need networks to enable good communication, but we want small, manageable boards at GP consortium level.”
The new chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Mike Farrar, told the The Guardian that consultants are not equipped to help consortia. “How can an orthopaedic surgeon represent the views of the entire secondary-care provision?” he asks.