Thursday, April 25, 2013

Strain on A&E...

Just heard Hunt on Today program, trying very hard to back-pedal and say that it isn't actually GPs' fault that A&E can't cope with the extra 4 million visits per year but the previous governement for allowing us to opt out. And to put that 4 million extra consultations into context, UK GP see 300 million consulations per year. Yes, 2 whole orders of magnitude more...

Well, for one thing, my "part-time" week (read the comments on the Telegraph website) is already 47.5 hours, and that's without the extra I put in. For another, the reason I am tapping away on the computer is two-fold: most important is I'm keeping records so I can remember what happened to you years ago; but the way GP is resourced (NOT how I get paid but how the services in YOUR surgery are funded) means that if I don't tick an increasing number of boxes (many of which will do nothing to improve either your health or well-being), the resources don't come in to pay for the nurses, reception staff, equipment etc.

So rather than blame ME for poor OOH provision, fund the bloody service properly in the first place, rather than engage in a race to the bottom with cheapest wins the tender, set proper standards that must be adhered to. How about a national strategy, given it's the National Health Service? Rather than arms-length "oh that's the fault of local commissioners", who you haven't given the resources to in the first place. And make sure that A&E departments are empowered to tell people to go to the appropriate place rather than have to see and sort them (inadequately, which is not incidentally their fault).

It isn't bloody rocket science.

Friday, April 19, 2013

GPC report 18 April 2013

GPC Report

For East and West Sussex LMCs

Dr Russell Brown


18 April 2013


The GPC held its meeting on 18 March.


This months report will be brief as, for a change, much of the discussion was confidential.


Equitable funding, locum superannuation and PMS practices news

Discussions are ongoing. A letter to the profession has been sent by Laurence Buckman on 17 April and its contents are about all I can divulge on how the plans for equitable funding are likely to impact on PMS practices. Discussions about the new obligation on practices to pay locum superannuation are still ongoing but are no further forward at this time.


Additionally, there have been discussions about arrangements for collaborative fees and occupational health services for practice staff. But no news.



There will be an announcement shortly on a policy that is to be implemented very soon. You will have to wait for the announcement but expect some of previously aired concerns by LMC members to be addressed. It should also be noted that it will be an ongoing and developing piece of work, with involvement from the profession and patients being encouraged.



Work is continuing on nailing down the details for leases and the like. Legal advice is being taken by both sides in an effort to get an agreed and sensible model. However, it will still be necessary for practices to instruct their own advisors to ensure they will be well served by any lease arrangements.



I was asked to give an interview to BBC South East Today about NHS111 during this months meeting. Fortunately, I managed to get back to the meeting without missing much about NHS111. In brief, it is still a mess, the tendering process has demonstrably failed, response times are still unacceptable. What we need is a reintegration on the triage service with the face-to-face service. Will it happen? As we already know, there is a political imperative on this. I just hope no one gets hurt.


Commissioning update

There was an update on the recently published conflicts of interest guidance from NHS England, the Monitor document on fair playing fields and an oral update on engagement with the process the Labour Party is going through to try and determine its health policies.


A motion was proposed and passed in all parts. I reproduce it below:


That GPC believes that compulsory practice membership of CCGs with statutory duties as defined by the Health and Social Care Act:


1. risks placing GP partners in a position of untenable conflict between their professional obligations to their patients and the statutory obligations of their practices as CCG members;

2. fundamentally changes the role and nature of general practices, and, in view of recent regulatory changes, risks forcing them to be integral agents of state rationing, cost control and privatisation, seriously threatening the trust between GPs and their patients and therefore posing a risk to the very integrity of NHS general practice;


3. places significant obstacles in the way of GPs and practices acting in accordance with the recommendations of the Francis report as they will be under inevitable pressure to comply with their CCGs' statutory obligations to stay within budgets and to achieve financially and managerially-driven targets which conflict with the needs of their patients;


4. adds to competing pressures on general practice, particularly following the recent contract imposition, and GPC recognises that practices must and will prioritise providing safe essential services to their patients and are therefore very likely to consider limiting their engagement with their CCG and its activities to their contractual obligations;


5. leads it to call upon the BMA , local medical committees to robustly support doctors who are placing the interests of their patients as their first concern and who may be unable to comply with obligations placed upon them by the constitution of their CCG where there is evidence that patient safety may be compromised by the requirements of CCG policy.


Words mean what words say and I will not embellish them by attempting to interpret the beyond repeating them.


I understand there are similar motions going to the Conference of LMCs next month. The next GPC meeting is in June because of this. There will be a report from there as well though.


I hope you have found this helpful. As ever, feedback on my report is encouraged.


Dr Russell Brown


PS It is interesting to see how much more detail is contained in this month's GPC News, which will be on the BMA website soon at, as I was under the impression much of the conversation was confidential. Perhaps I should be less discrete...


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Text of my GPC report 21 March 2013

GPC Report
For East and West Sussex LMCs
Dr Russell Brown
21 March 2013
The GPC held its meeting on 21 March. Much of the agenda and discussions were confidential,
unfortunately. We are now in the new world of CCGs and post-Francis, not that I expect either of
those to make any difference to the direction of travel.
Contract and QOF
Though I cannot report on discussions which took place, details of the imposition and DES
specifications are gradually becoming clearer. It is not pretty and I suspect that at least some
practices will consider carefully whether the new work is affordable. I suppose it may be that
some of the less attractive bits may be possible to do in collaboration with other practices.
Whether that is desirable is for practices to consider. There has already been much comment and
guidance on this so I will not add to it except by pointing to some of it: is a work in progress and will be added
to over time.
The Francis Report
This said nothing terribly unexpected. The BMA welcomed it in the main. I have some concerns
about how it may affect GPs. However, with the rollout of 111 steaming ahead in many places
despite concerns being expressed by many, it appears that HMG and DH are still considering how
to implement some of the suggestions made in the report.
The future of General Practice
Not a GPC piece of work, but a response to a request from the Labour Party to consider how
they should develop their policies on this matter in the future. I can see arguments about being
inside a tent, but I am uncomfortable with this. I am generally cynical about the motives of
Commissioning matters
An oral report from the negotiating team generated much discussion and, unusually, a motion
which was passed: "that GPC opposes and calls for the withdrawal of Statutory Instrument
2013/500." This referred to the competition concerns expressed elsewhere. Despite governmental
assurances, I suspect that CCGs will in effect have no choice but to tender services. If we can help
them see how and where they might avoid doing so I am sure they might be inclined to maintain
Work on premises cost directions is almost complete and there will be a common single set of
documents. The regulations themselves have been signed in to force in the last week. For the first
time there will be a uniform set of guidance notes, available by the end of April. One outstanding
area is the issue of waste of various types but I understand this will be resolved soon. Leases are
coming but still a work in progress.
NHS111 & NHSCB (now NHS England) Single Operating Model
Unfortunately I had to leave the meeting early so Julius will update us on theses items.
The next meeting is on 18 April. As ever, feedback on my report is encouraged.
Dr Russell Brown