For East and West Sussex LMCs
Dr Russell Brown
The GPC held its meeting on 20 June. Given my previous reports seem to have been superseded fairly rapidly by GPC News, rather than be indiscreet, I have waited until this month’s edition is available. It is lengthy, and though I avoided somnolence for the majority of the session, it contains much that I have no recollection of discussing during the meeting. Of course, it is also an opportunity for the GPC Secretariat to publish information which has arisen since the previous GPC meeting for LMCs. It is available for downloading, should you wish to read it, at the bottom of the page here: http://tinyurl.com/cuea2rg
The morning session was devoted to various subcommittee meetings. I currently sit on the Commissioning and Services Development subcommittee, which has a wide remit. Various matters were considered, including some draft BMA responses to consultations Monitor are running and consideration of those motions from LMC Conference which would fall under the remit of the subcommittee. Of particular interest to me was a report about a roundtable event held by GPC to engage with GPs who are board members of their Clinical Commissioning Groups. As a forum for sharing of ideas between those running our CCGs and those representing us as providers, this seems to be a Good Thing. More events are planned and I would encourage colleagues with such Commissioning roles to consider engaging in the future.
After a brief lunch, the main meeting started. Laurence Buckman was Chairing his final meeting. He advised he will be returning to full-time practice, but will remain as an ex-officio member of the GPC for the next year. After a long discussion about electoral processes, it became clear that, should the standing orders which state how elections take place need changing, it would have to be after the elections coming up next month!
There are currently no negotiations taking place regarding next year. As yet, NHS Employers have not been given a mandate by the Department of Health to negotiate on its behalf. Hopefully this will change soon and thus allowing some kind of discussion to begin.
Future of General Practice
A major item discussed was the Future of General Practice. Work and discussions are ongoing to develop a vision of what we may wish to see in the future. It is too early to report any details, but any thoughts you may have would be welcomed.
A lengthy and detailed debate on the thorny issue of Out Of Hours care was had. This followed a lengthy and detailed debate on the GPC listserver. I contributed to both, emphasising the wishes expressed both in the local survey so many of you were kind enough to complete (512 of you in the end) and by LMC Conference. Consideration is being given to what will happen next. This does not imply navel-gazing. I suspect I will have news for you quite soon but at the moment this is genuinely one of those occasions when I have no wish to potentially compromise our negotiating position, especially given the ongoing pressure on services in-hours.
The Monitor consultations were discussed again in the afternoon. Regarding walk-in centres, it is important to consider that the review is about the CLOSURE of some or all of them and NOT the procurement. The procurement was a politically-driven centralist process. My own view is that the closing of centres should be considered according to local circumstances - there never was a one-size-fits-all solution to the “problem” (that wasn’t, in many areas) and it would be unwise to follow the same blanket approach to closure.
A brief update on appraisal and revalidation was delivered. Particularly invidious is the policy of ceasing payments to locum GPs for their appraisals. It is illogical to inflict this on locums as a group, given the time for preparation and the appraisal itself means time not working and thus loss of income.
The issue of communications was discussed. There is already some patient facing information on the pressures facing General Practice at changingnhs.com. Discussions and work are ongoing as to next steps in a comms strategy.
Standing Orders for GPC mandate that the meeting cannot run past 1800, which is when we finished. I then managed a new personal best, getting from the Council Chamber in BMA House to a train at Victoria inside of 16 minutes. Sharp elbows.
This was the last meeting of the current session. Next month’s meeting will see the election of a new Chairman and several negotiators, as well as elections to the subcommittees again, including elections of Chairmen of five of the subcommittees. I am aware of several candidates for the negotiators’ election already. I suspect there will be a fierce contest.
I hope you have found this report useful. Please feedback so that I can ensure my reports are useful.
Dr Russell Brown