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Clinical commissioning ‘will take 20 years to bed in’

26 October 2012

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The government’s health reforms will take “at least” 20 years to become “established”, it is claimed.

Speaking at a GP Business roundtable at The Kings Fund, Dr Joe McGilligan, chair of East Surrey (ESyDoc) clinical commissioning group (CCG) and joint chair of the East Surrey health and wellbeing board, said the creation of a “seamless” and “consistent” health service is decades away.

“By making CCGs understand that it is not about who does best, [the reforms are] a case of how we are all going to get through this together,” he said.

“My ultimate goal is to make sure that any patient in my consortium has the same access to the same level of care, whichever practice they are attached to.

“It is to make sure it is a seamless service so you do not end up with a postcode lottery. We do have the opportunity to do that come 1 April 2012.

“It took 64 years to reach this point in the NHS. It is going to take 20 years at least to have it established the way we want it to be.”

Dr Charles Alessi, chair of the National Association for Primary Care (NAPC) and interim chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners, disagreed with Dr McGilligan’s comments and said the reforms will result in changes “much sooner” than in 20 years time.

“The health system we have now will certainly evolve and change, but we will be seeing changes as a result of clinical commissioning much sooner than that of 20 years time,” he said.

“What’s more, we won’t be given 20 years to establish change – it must come sooner than that.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), doubts whether the reforms will “bed down” at all.

“Doctors will make the reforms work as best they can but structures are being moved from under our feet and at some point the reforms will become irreversible,” she said.

“The changes will not bed down as everything is in place to ensure the state provision of healthcare will be reduced to the bar minimum.

“It is not a question of whether the reforms will take 20 years to become established, it is a question of whether the NHS will be around in 20 years.”