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CCG doctors feel bullied in NHS reforms process

60% of surveyed doctors felt coerced in setting up process

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Some doctors involved in setting up the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that will spearhead the NHS reforms say they are being bullied or coerced over the way the organisations are set up, claims a survey.

The survey, unveiled at today’s Annual NHS Alliance Conference being held in Manchester, was carried out by the Clinical Commissioning Coalition – created jointly by the NHS Alliance and the National Association of Primary Care.

There are now 257 emerging ‘pathfinder’ clinical commissioning groups and the survey carried out last week received 67 responses.

Of those responding, 60% said they believed that their CCG was being coerced or bullied to alter how they were setting it up in ways that conflicted with what they felt would benefit the local population.

The survey was run in response to repeated reports from the emerging CCGs of coercion or bullying over how they are being established

The NHS Alliance said the coercion or bullying seemed to be coming from the existing NHS management infrastructure of clustered primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, bodies that will be abolished in April 2013 when CCGs take responsibility.

The finding is consistent with a previous Clinical Commissioning Coalition survey published in September, which found 46% of CCG respondents felt restricted in the commissioning support offer available to them; a third had not been fully involved in shaping their commissioning support offer; and 30% of respondents described their PCT cluster as “performance-managing & centralist”.

Dr Michael Dixon, a leader of the Clinical Commissioning Coalition and chairman of the NHS Alliance, said: “We’ve heard too many reports that CCGs are being told by the current system managers that they must be created in specific ways. That is not what the old system is meant to be doing: it should be supporting CCG development, as last week’s NHS Operating Framework made fully clear.

“In a significant number of cases, this seems to cross the line into unacceptable pressure in the form of bullying or coercion.”

Dr Charles Alessi, a fellow leader of the Clinical Commissioning Coalition, added: “We are deeply concerned about these top-down directives - examples of which have been coming to us over several weeks now. We are calling upon ministers to stipulate the need for a completely different tone from PCT and SHA clusters if they really do want the vision of a transformed NHS to become reality.”

Dr Dixon, in his opening speech at the conference today will talk about CCG leaders who he believes are being excluded from crucial decision-making about how their organisations will be set up and run.

“The week before last, I had over 30 emails from concerned CCG leaders,” he will say. “Each told its own story; stories of commissioning support being imposed, of staff being appointed without consultation and of crucial meetings being arranged with less than twelve hours’ notice.”

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