Hornchurch GP hits out at Government health plans

A HORNCHURCH doctor has publicly criticised Government proposals to put the majority of healthcare in the hands of GPs.

Dr Timothy Bland, a GP at the Billett Lane Medical Centre, in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, claimed on Channel 4 news on Friday evening that the plans by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley would undermine patient care and lead to the state giving up control of the NHS.

The proposals, published in a Government White Paper in July, suggest taking healthcare planning and commissioning away from primary care trusts, and instead putting groups of GPs in charge.

“It will divert GPs’ time and attention away from patient care onto the massive task of corporate reorganisation for which they are not equipped,” Dr Bland said.

“Secondly it will seriously undermine the trust between GPs and patients which is fundamental to the success of British health care.

“The GP who is arguing on your behalf for your care will be the same person who is potentially cutting those very services.”

The paper sets out a vision for the future of healthcare in which patients become the centre of their own healthcare provision, with the ability to choose between GPs, consultants and treatments.

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The Health Secretary believes that family doctors are best-placed to aid patients in this, and decide where money is spent.

But Dr Bland, who has been a local GP for 25 years this month, and a doctor for 33 years, said giving 30,000 clinicians responsibility for looking after �80billion of public money alongside property estates owned by the NHS, would put patients and the NHS in *danger.

He told the Recorder: “Doctors would be absolutely overwhelmed by the really difficult jobs that PCTs do over and above commissioning care for patients.

“This is particularly relevant in Havering where the PCT is looking at the options for the redevelopment of St George’s Hospital.

“We’re in the world market. We know that the large American healthcare corporations are just licking their lips and rubbing their hands at the thought of getting their hands on �80bn of British healthcare budget.”

Currently primary care trust managers are in charge of spending about 80 per-cent of the �100bn annual NHS budget. These managers commission services tailored to their communities.

Dr Bland’s views have been echoed by the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.

The BMA’s Dr Hamish Meldrum urged the Government to steer away from “slash-and-burn” tactics, saying pitting GPs against each other would “create waste, bureaucracy and inefficiency”.

The RCN has criticised the lack of visibility for nurses in the white paper, saying that any possible change would not work without their input.

Public sector union Unison is seeking a judicial review over the white paper.