Many thanks to NHS worker and member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), Kate Osamor, for this statement of support:
As a Practice manager, I have witnessed first-hand the changing face of General Practice. When health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the minimum income price guarantee (MPIG) funding would be withdrawn as part of the imposed 2013/14 GP contract settlement, Local Medical Committees (LMCs) began to examine how practices would be affected. The gradual withdrawal of MIPG will have a serious impact on practices, especially those in deprived areas with vulnerable patients. This urgently needs to be reviewed by NHS England head of primary care commissioning, Dr David Geddes. The Local Medical Committee (LMC) have now lodged a complaint.
Coupled with slashes in funding, GP’s are now asked to set up local GP networks – GP Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG). The main aim of these networks is to primarily work collaboratively with the other GP networks, in providing primary care from Monday-Sunday 8am-8pm. As time moves on the networks will also be required to set up Enhanced Diabetic services and Urgent care centres. GPs have not hidden they that are fundamentally against working under this business model, and merely see it as being asked to work more hours for less money. The mood is that they prefer to work on the clinical side of care.
My worry is private businesses like Virgin, Serco, Harmoni and Care UK will see this lack of gravitas to working under a business model as very attractive, ultimately seizing the chance to work on behalf of the GPs. We must bear in mind the following: providers like Harmoni have a documented experience of undercutting and offering a poor service to patients. When Dr Fred Kavalier, the former clinical lead at Harmoni, resigned in January 2011, he forwarded to the senior management concerns raised by a Harmoni GP who warned that cuts in the service had led to “dangerous” pressure on appointments. The GP feared this “could lead to mistakes being made … the current system is putting patients’ health at severe risk”. The GP drew attention to other cases: “Five-year-old boy whose mother rings at 11pm, no appointments left at any of the bases [which] now finish at 11pm instead of midnight and are generally booked all night. (the Guardian Tuesday 18 December 2012) Despite these concerns providers like Harmoni continue to obtain vital health contract at the detriment of patients, in some of the most deprived communities. What GP’s should be doing is to set up working networks that include community groups that currently offer services to the vulnerable and disenfranchised. We must stand together and fight to ensure that we get a Labour government into parliament, a Labour government that repeals the Health and Social Care Bill and replaces it with a NHS that put patients first and blocks involvement from private business.
Kate Osamor NHS worker and Member of Labour’s National Executive committee