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GPs 'outraged' at central commissioning of maternity services

GPs say it is “outrageous” that maternity services will be commissioned centrally and not by local consortia.

Under the white paper, maternity services are one of the few areas, along with specialised services, to be purchased by the NHS commissioning board and not GP consortia.

However, two thirds of GPs believe maternity services should be commissioned by consortia, according to a vote at a white paper listening event organised by the NHS Alliance.

In a report stemming from the event, the alliance said GPs “could not understand the logic” of keeping maternity services out of GP commissioning. Maternity was part of primary care and GPs were “best placed to facilitate maternity networks”, which are also due to be set up by the white paper, a report on the events said.

One speaker quoted in the report said: “It [maternity] is a vital link between GPs and the most disadvantaged, for whom it may be their only contact with primary care.”

Other speakers, the report says, believed consortia needed to control local spending on maternity services in order to stop unnecessary overnight admissions.

Other common concerns were also identified.

The report says: “There was cynicism, with people citing experience of previous reforms that had not lived up to promises of putting GPs in the driving seat. There was also impatience [at the lack of guidance from the government].

“But there was an equally strong demand for freedom and flexibility, and an end to command and control top down management approaches.”   

The NHS Alliance held four listening events in London, Wetherby, Leicester and Newbury during September and October. The events were attended by around 400 GPs and practice managers.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Have any reasons been given by DH for why maternity services should be commissioned centrally? I haven't seen anything?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • If we thought the SHAs were bad at controlling commissioning decisions it looks like the commissioning board will overtake them!
    The reality is that a bunch of ex PCT and SHA managers make decisions about commissioning with no understanding of the impact it will have locally. JUST GIVE NEW CONSORTIA THE CHANCE AND TOOLS TO DO THIS PROPERLY AND WE WILL

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • There are two explanations - one the truth; one to keep GPs happy....
    GP happy version: because maternity spend cannot be controlled so "unfair" to expect GPs to manage finances.
    Real version: influence people near DH (Royal College etc) don't want GPs anywhere near it again now that the services has become professional. Don't want GPs to take it back to the dark ages (hot towels etc).

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • a third an v cynical version is that it is cheap and easy so the commissioning board wants to do it and take a disproportionate proportion of the management allowance to do so dear old Barbara can build her empire of cronies not needed by SHA's and PCT's anymore

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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