GPs must not be allowed to profit personally from commissioning, according to the British Medical Association.
The BMA’s GP committee has today issued its first position statement on the handover of commissioning to GP consortia, in which it sets out a range of underlying principles it says must underpin the policy.
Among the principles outlined by the GPC are that freed up resources must be reinvested in patient care, as they are under practice based commissioning, and GPs must not personally profit from commissioning budgets.
Additionally the GPC says GP consortia should ensure that, wherever possible, NHS providers are the providers of choice and a consortium must be democratically accountable to practices within it and should also act with integrity and leadership when considering the accountability of practices.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: “Even though there is still little detail about how commissioning will work we know that many primary care trusts are pushing ahead trying to make arrangements.”
He called for this process to be slowed down in order to plan properly how GP commissioning should work.
He said: “If GP commissioning is to bring real change and benefit to patients and the NHS then time needs to be given to planning how it should work, based on the principles we’ve outlined. I would urge GPs to resist pressure to move too quickly.”
This message contradicts that coming from other primary care organisations. NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon has urged GP commissioners and PCTs to get their GP consortia up and running as soon as possible.
Talking at a practice based commissioning conference in the north east at the end of July, he said: “We need to get this off the ground as quickly as possible. As with flying, we will need many flying hours before we are confident and prepared to go solo in 2013.”
He added: “The new set up will work best where there are arrangements for strong partnerships between GP consortia and PCTs, which will be invaluable in terms of sharing their skills and expertise in how to cope with budgets, as well as statutory and other management responsibilities.”
Commenting on the GPC position statement, NHS Confederation acting chief executive Nigel Edwards said: “We welcome the BMA’s proposals for GP-led commissioning apart from that which states GP consortia should choose NHS organisations as the providers of choice. This principle is doubtful in law and unwise in practice.
“As commissioners, GP consortia will have a responsibility to purchase the best quality care for patients while also providing value for the taxpayer. For profit and not for profit firms have played an important role in providing a range of services, including mental health and community services, to the NHS for many years. It is important that GP commissioners do not simply dismiss what non-NHS organisations can offer.”