Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

GPs 'sceptical of NHS overhaul bid'

Most GPs are sceptical about the Government's planned overhaul of the NHS, a poll suggests
Most GPs are sceptical about the Government's planned overhaul of the NHS, a poll suggests

Most GPs are sceptical that the Government's planned overhaul of the NHS will actually benefit patients, a poll suggests.

The BBC survey of 827 doctors found fewer than one in four think putting GPs in charge of the health service budget will lead to improvements.

Just 23% said the reforms would benefit patients, with 45% saying they would not and 32% expressing no opinion.

Meanwhile, just 25% of doctors said they would be willing to take on the extra responsibility of planning and buying in services, with 57% saying they would not do it and 18% expressing no opinion.

GPs also expressed doubts about becoming so closely involved in commissioning in specialist areas such as cancer and paediatrics.

The poll comes as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley faces mounting criticism over his shake-up of the NHS.

Under the plans, groups of GPs will control the NHS budget and commission services from 2013. NHS trusts, which manage the cash at the moment, will be abolished.

The survey, carried out online between September 23 and 30, found most GPs do not believe they are well prepared to take charge of commissioning in several key areas. These include cancer, emergency hospital care, mental health and paediatrics. Seven out of 10 also said the planned changes would lead to the private sector taking on a bigger role in the NHS.

Mr Lansley said: "The survey is deeply flawed. It does not reflect the Government's policy proposals for GP commissioning and therefore cannot provide a genuine perspective of GPs' views on the plans. That said, if a quarter of GPs - nearly 10,000 of them - offered support for commissioning in response to this survey, it's a powerful indication of the willingness of GP practices to make progress.

"With two and a half years in which to learn from pathfinder commissioning consortia and establish shadow arrangements, there is ample time for practices that do not yet feel ready, to build capability collectively. We intend to put in place support arrangements to help practices develop capability."

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