02 July 2004
Primary care organisations are timid and lack the strategic vision to make the most of the new doctors' contract, according to GPs' leader John Chisholm.
At the British Medical Association conference in Llandudno this week, Chisholm said PCOs —primary care trusts and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — had not grasped the contract's potential.
He said: 'The contract gives enormous opportunities for PCOs to expand and develop primary care, to improve chronic disease management, to shift services from secondary to primary care, to take pressure off the hospital service. The failure to grasp those is unsatisfactory and unacceptable.'
Under the contract, GP practices may increase their core income by offering enhanced services — diabetes clinics or minor surgery, for example. But Chisholm, who is stepping down as the chair of the GPs' committee, claimed PCOs were failing to release sufficient funds for enhanced services.
'The timid short-termism of some PCOs must be overcome,' he added.
BMA consultants' leader Paul Miller told the conference that senior hospital doctors should have a greater say in service developments.
'Health care is too important to leave to politicians and their advisers. Excluding consultants nationally or locally results in bad decisions and unworkable policies for patient care,' he said.
Consultant involvement was needed to ensure the success of the NHS information technology programme.
'The agenda for IT implementation in the NHS in the coming year will be massive. Yet consultation with clinical users is scarce to non-existent. History is littered with brilliant ideas that failed because the clever inventors were answering the wrong question.'