Go ahead on commissioning, GPs told

GPs have been given the green light to press ahead with commissioning groups after major changes were announced to plans for reform of the NHS.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley denied that a listening exercise conducted by the Government over the Health and Social Care Bill represented a "tearing up" of plans to modernise the NHS.

He told GPs at a conference in west London there was now "nothing" to stop them from pressing ahead with clinical commissioning groups following major changes to the legislation announced yesterday.

"Let me now be absolutely clear, there is nothing to stop you now from pressing ahead," he said.

"Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts will cease to exist in April 2013. By then all general practices in England will be members of either a fully or a partly-authorised clinical commissioning group or one that is not yet authorised but nonetheless has been established.

"We cannot have gaps in coverage. We must not have a two-tier system, so we will establish clinical commissioning groups covering all of England by that date of April 2013."

Mr Lansley said the pause in the passage of the Bill had been right to get it as "right as we possibly can".

"While delay, I know, can be frustrating, especially as we have all been putting plans in place, the pause was right in order to get things right to make the Bill as right as we possibly can," he said.

Mr Lansley insisted that the timetable for setting up commissioning groups would be more flexible and no-one would be forced to take on new responsibilities before they were ready.

"April 2013 will not be a 'drop dead' date for the new commissioners," he said.

The big changes announced to the plans for reform came after the Government accepted key recommendations of a panel of health experts.

The changes include nurses and consultants to be included on the boards of new GP groups responsible for commissioning healthcare services.

There will also be stronger safeguards against a "market free-for-all", with the regulator Monitor required to protect patient interests and not to promote competition as an end in itself.

Other changes include additional safeguards against privatisation and to prevent private companies "cherry-picking" profitable NHS business.

Mr Lansley told the conference that every commissioning group would have a governing body which will ensure all decisions are made in an "open and transparent" way.

He said this body would need to include at least one registered nurse and one secondary care specialist doctor.

But he told the conference that, to avoid any potential conflict of interest, neither should be employed by a local health provider.

The decision not to allow either a nurse or a hospital doctor employed by a local health provider was challenged in questions later by two GPs.

Dr Roger Pinnock, chairman of Ashford Locality Commissioning Group, said: "A consultant to sit on the commissioning group not from the local provider - we are in East Kent, we are effectively a peninsula, we have sea on three sides of us... where on earth is this consultant going to come from?"

Dr Chris Trzcinski, joint chairman of the West Leicestershire GP Commissioning Consortium, and a GP in Markfield, Leics, told Mr Lansley: "The people who want to be involved are the local consultants and you are going to end up with people who aren't that involved in the local health service... people from outside the area who won't have that particular interest in the local health service or people who aren't directly involved."

Mr Lansley said: "We did start from a position of really literally not prescribing to you how you go about this task but we are taking people with us and many of your hospital consultant colleagues felt that they were being excluded.

"What we need to do is to demonstrate by this range of mechanisms that is far from the case."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
    Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

    Berlusconi's world of sleaze

    The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
    Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

    Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

    Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
    Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

    Could gaming arcades be revived?

    The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
    Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

    Heard the one about menstruation?

    Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage