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Government backs 'transparent' GP commissioning

22 November 2010 - 4:25pm

Frontline journalist Sally Priestley was at the NHS Alliance annual conference in Bournemouth with the CSP's five-strong delegation led by chief executive Phil Gray. He was due to explain in a panel discussion where physiotherapy fitted in with the new NHS landscape and his message to GPs.

The government has supported the call from primary care practitioners for transparency in the commissioning of services under new GP consortia.

Health minister Earl Howe told the NHS Alliance annual conference in Bournemouth that GP consortia would have to follow strict rules on transparency to protect against conflicts of interest among providers.

Earlier at the conference, NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon called for GPs to be able to take on work previously done in hospital as long as they opened their books to demonstrate absolute financial transparency.

Earl Howe told delegates the government was putting together plans for inclusion in the upcoming Health Bill that would look to ease the issue of possible conflicts of interest when GPs commission services from within their group.

'The consortia will be able to commission from constituent practices as long as there is transparency and as long as they are not anti-competitive. We have to be careful about cosy relationships,' the minister said.

Any willing provider

Referring to the any willing providers policy, Earl Howe argued the model would create 'much greater incentive for NHS providers to improve services'.

He also clarified that the regulatory body Monitor would be there to 'ensure fair local competition' and would not be expected to 'drum up artificial competition'.

The minister said the Department of Health would be 'more specific fairly soon' about how much GP consortia would be allowed to spend on managing the commissioning of NHS services.


CSP's position

The CSP has already urged the government to reconsider some of the proposals outlined in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, and has expressed grave concerns about the scope and speed of the structural changes proposed and the resulting major risks to the quality of patient care and the future of the NHS.

The CSP is also deeply concerned that the proposed shift to GP consortia-led commissioning may increase costs, fragment patient care and create an unacceptable postcode lottery of services across the country.


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