For East and West Sussex LMCs
Dr Russell Brown
20 September 2012
This month's meeting took place in BMA House in London again, as the Olympic season is over. The day started with a rather uninteresting 10 minute GPDF AGM and I will not subject you to further information on that.
There was discussion around the recent Dispatches program which effectively blew the whistle on the way DWP assessments are being undertaken by ATOS. A letter will be sent to the DWP asking what they are going to do about. Additionally, a meeting between Laurence Buckman, Mark Porter and the Minister has been organised for October to discuss the matter.
The matter of NHS Pledge cards was discussed briefly. I understand this will be considered by BMA Council next week. The intention of the cards, as I understand it, is to enable GPs to reassure patients that they are supporting the NHS by only referring them to NHS hospitals. Personally I am uncertain that this is something that is sensible for the BMA to commit to given the huge local variations in service availability and quality. I would be reluctant to commit to a scheme of this nature if I knew a local private or AQP provider would be a better choice for the patient sat in front of me for example. GPC's position is that we are neutral on the matter until we have more details to consider.
Pension matters have been quiet over the summer. I understand however they are to be discussed at BMA Council next week. The Public Service Pensions Bill was published on 13 September and as you know it's purpose is to address the claimed unsustainability of Public Sector Pensions. The BMA strongly believes that the scope of these changes is unfair and will adversely impact staff in the NHS Pension Scheme for reasons we have discussed before. The BMA is working on several strands of work. Firstly, the BMA is involved with the Working Longer Review, looking at the impact on health workers; secondly work with the other health unions to look at the principles of the relative contributions; lastly using the publishing of the Bill as an opportunity to lobby Parliamentarians and make them aware of our concerns.
Reports from various of the subcommittees were received. There seems to be an issue in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery area where GP Trainees who require further training are only being offered part time positions, apparently so as to avoid the prospect of a waiting list (and no work). Funding seems to be the issue. Many of the individual doctors concerned are vulnerable for one reason or another and seem to be unrepresented by anyone but GPC so far. The GP Trainee subcommittee is watching the situation. Of interest to some practices in the federation will be the fact that CSC, the provider of iSoft Synergy and Premier GP IT systems will not be supporting them after October 2013, necessitating a change of system for those practices. This will be managed carefully to avoid problems with QOF data degradation.
In better news, there has been movement on Revalidation: GP remediation will be funded in certain circumstances by NHSCBA from central funds, namely where the training needs to take place away from the normal place of work. However, I heard nothing about locums and am concerned that most GPs in need of remedial training will have it in their practices and so am unclear how this will be funded. Criteria for deciding on eligibility for this will be discussed and decided with the BMA in due course, but I have no idea how long that will take or what will happen in the mean time. Some colleagues may have seen stories in the press about the BMA agreeing that Revalidation can go ahead. That isn't quite right but the BMA has agreed that its seven principles have been met sufficiently to allow the process to move forward, though there are still many outstanding issues which need to be addressed.
The authorisation process for CCGs moves on in unstoppable fashion. We are fortunate locally that there is LMC involvement in developing our Constitutions. In some areas there are reports of CCG Boards behaving quite irresponsibly which doesn't bode well for their longevity I would think.
Finally, the juggernaut of NHS 111 similarly moves on. There are still many problems which the project board seems to find difficult to comprehend. Many of these are manifestly patient safety issues. The dispositions need much work. Pilot areas are feeding information back to GPC. The ScHARR report into the performance of the pilot schemes is inexplicably still unpublished, having been in the hands of the Ministry for some time.
I hope this report is useful. Please feed back any comments if you would like me to present it differently.
Dr Russell Brown
GPC and Chair East Sussex LMC