The NHS Commissioning Board needs to encourage more salaried GPs onto CCGs or risk overstretching GP partners, it is claimed.
Ed Garratt, COO of West Suffolk CCG, said one of the greatest challenges facing CCGs is that of ‘backfilling’ those GPs who take on commissioning responsibilities.
He told MiP that piling more hours onto GPs who are already working to capacity “is a big concern”.
Part of the solution, he said, is to encourage a greater involvement from salaried GPs into the commissioning agenda, who by nature have more “flexibility” than GP partners.
“We have a salaried GP on our CCG so it does show there is a willingness to get involved in local commissioning, but this is a national issue and the NHS CB needs to do more to tap into them,” said Garratt.
“There is no difference between the commissioning abilities of GP partners and salaried GPs but on a practical level, GP partners may simply not have the time to devote to commissioning.”
A salaried GP’s perceived “lower status” to GP partners may be one of the reasons why there is a lack of encouragement to become involved with their local CCG, he said.
Dr Amit Bhargava, GP Chair at a Sussex CCG, encouraged caution when pushing for a greater involvement from salaried GPs.
“It is important to work with salaried GPs in commissioning as they play a big part in general practice,” he said.
“But the way salaried GPs interact with a population is quite variable and it is crucial GPs in commissioning roles are not coming and going.”
However, Garratt told MiP a GP should be judged on their merit, rather than their employment status.
“A good GP is a good GP,” he said.
In a statement to MiP, a spokesperson from the NHS CB said it recognised sessional GPs have the “capability and capacity” to undertake leadership roles in CCGs and is committed to encourage their inclusion.
“We are committed to ensuring all GPs have the fullest opportunity to get involved in clinical commissioning, including sessional GPs (salaried and locum) who we recognise are a significant part of the GP workforce,” said the spokesperson.
“We also recognise that sessional GPs have the capability and capacity to undertake leadership roles in clinical commissioning and we are working with a range of partners to focus on engaging and involving sessional GPs in the new clinical commissioning system.
“The NHS CB has made it clear that each GP practice representative who deals with CCGs will need to be able to work effectively with all GPs, including sessional GPs, and other practice staff to ensure that the views of the practice as a whole are obtained and played into the CCG’s discussions.”
By Louise Naughton