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Strong calls for broader membership for Consortia

Health professionals question role of competition

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 27 May 2011

Hospital specialists and not just GPs must be central to commissioning decisions.

This is the message of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in its response to the Future Forum – the government’s listening exercise on the Health and Social Care Bill 2011.

The RCP argues that hospital specialists should be appointed to consortium boards and that Consortia should be renamed ‘Community Commissioning Boards’ to reflect this broader involvement. GPs should reciprocally sit on the boards of Foundation Trusts.

In addition, the College calls for collaboration to be valued more highly than competition, with regulators taking an integrated approach to cooperation, competition, quality and safety.

Serious consideration should be given eventually to merging the two main health regulators, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), says the RCP.

And it says the government should postpone any restructuring of education and training for two years, and meanwhile retain postgraduate deaneries to ensure that increasing service pressures do not threaten the training of the next generation of doctors.

RCP President Sir Richard Thompson explained: “We strongly support the move towards clinically-led commissioning, but to make integrated care a reality, hospital doctors must be given a place at the top table alongside GPs. Hospital doctors across the country want to work with their GP colleagues to make sure patients receive the highest quality care, and we need a Bill that promotes this.

“Quality, collaboration and integration must be at the heart of the health service and these principles – not competition – should be the focus of health service regulators. We hope to see major changes to the Bill that acknowledge and reflect these genuine and deeply felt concerns.”

The Royal College of Nursing, in its submission to the Future Forum, also questions the Reforms emphasis on competition. It maintains that the role of Monitor should be amended to ensure new duties to promote competition include the ‘quality of service’ rather than price as the deciding factor.

In addition, the RCN calls for the nursing role on the proposed GP consortia to be enshrined in law and for consortia to be renamed: ‘clinical commissioning consortia’ to reflect multi-disciplinary membership.

Meanwhile, a group of 40 leading charities, including the Patient’s Association, today issued a statement demanding more say for patients and carers in the reforms.

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