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GP Commissioning Consortia

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

16. What estimate he has made of the average amount of time per week GPs will allocate to the administration of commissioning consortia under his proposals for NHS reform. (44494)

We anticipate that GPs will focus on the aspects of commissioning that will benefit most from their clinical expertise and understanding of patients’ needs. Only a minority of clinicians will play a hands-on, executive role in consortia. Moreover, they will be able to secure support services to assist with their administrative and commissioning duties.

At present, GPs are able to spend only about eight or nine minutes on average with each patient. How can the Secretary of State expect GPs to be meaningfully engaged in commissioning when, unlike him, they are putting patients first?

Unlike the hon. Gentleman, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State actually understands the situation. It is not true that doctors see patients for only eight minutes; GPs see their patients for the length of time that they feel they should see them. The concept that GPs will have their time taken away from looking after patients to do commissioning is not right, because GPs will employ commissioners with expertise to work with them and do the commissioning for them, so that they can get on with looking after their patients.

With regard to the admin load of GPs, the Government correctly want to have better integration of health and social care. Why, therefore, are they creating GP consortia that are less coterminous with local authority boundaries than the existing primary care trusts? How will that help to deliver a better integrated health and social care system?

I hope that I can reassure my hon. Friend in so far as that is not automatically or necessarily the case. The geographical area of a consortium will be determined by what is most appropriate in the local area.

When, oh when, will the Minister listen to the country, get his sticky mitts off the health service and stop meddling with our hospitals and doctors?

We are not meddling; we are modernising the NHS to put quality at the heart of care, and to enhance and improve outcomes, which is the most important thing for patients.