The British Medical Association’s General Practitioners’ Committee is asking for an amendment to the Health Bill that would allow commissioning consortia to draw up lists of preferred providers.
In its meeting on Thursday the GPC agreed to a resolution that consortia should be permitted to “choose which licensed providers are entered on their local lists from which GP’s can help patients decide which providers to choose”.
The amendment would potentially rule out providers from treating patients, which could be contrary to minister’s proposals for an “any willing provider” policy to operate in the NHS.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said the BMA’s aim was simply to limit potential providers to “anybody who is able to provide a practical service to my patients”.
He said the Bill should be amended so that “it will not be a breach of competition law to select preferred providers”.
Asked if the plan would simply allow GPs to block the private sector from providing services Dr Buckman said: “The entire consortium has to go with it. I don’t believe you could take an ideological stance with that number of people… GPs are not extreme at either end [of the political spectrum] so I don’t see a problem with that.”
The change would be designed to encourage commissioners and providers to work on agreed pathways of care.
A letter from NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to health service managers on Thursday said that the Department of Health was “currently considering” its response to a consultation on patient choice and any willing provider which closed in January.
The letter said: “Where service integration and continuity of care is important to secure the best clinical outcomes, patient experience and value for money (for example, in end of life care), the intention is that commissioners will be able to go to competitive tender and offer the service to one provider or ‘prime contractor’.
“Under this model, patients would still have choice of treatment, setting and lead clinician, and potentially of provider for certain services within the pathway. In essence, we want commissioners to adopt the model of commissioning (AWP or tendering) which delivers the best results for patients and taxpayers.”