Who's in the lead at GP-led centres?8th October 2008
The issue of who is in charge of GP-led health centres within the health service is explored by Pulse.
The Department of Health has given careful thought to how it brands its policies and incentives. Using the name "GP-led health centre" instead of "polyclinic" is a masterstroke - it is carefully chosen to be "GP-friendly".
But will GPs definitely be in charge of running these clinics?
In September it was announced that in every centre, there will be three nurses for each GP. In addition, Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, made the prediction that many of the new clinics would be managed by private companies.
In fact, his prediction turned out to be incorrect. In light of the credit crunch, the predicted investment did not appear. GPs were also told that they had to "adapt or die" and they did.
Pulse found out that "seven of the first nine tenders have been won by GPs". This victory throws up some intriguing queries.
One is "where does a GP end and a private company begin?" The GPs who have won tenders are so business-minded and commercial that their peers are suspicious of their intentions.
Also, why were GP groups so worried about polyclinics when it turns out the GPs will be in charge of them?
The response lies in a figure Pulse discovered this week. It is probable that the clinics will be given funding "at twice the level per patient as neighbouring practices".
This difference will have an impact on general practice as a whole. Although it may be a good idea that clinics are controlled by GPs rather than the private sector, "GPs must be wary of embracing a Trojan horse".
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