Brain Tumour UK welcomes Health Committee report on GP commissioning

Brain Tumour UK today welcomed a report by an influential committee of MPs, calling for more people to be involved in commissioning NHS services in England.

The Government currently proposes [1] handing over the purchasing of operations and other healthcare services to consortiums of GPs. This would mean GPs would "commission" billions of pounds-worth of healthcare spending, which is currently managed by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). The aim is to save 4% of the NHS budget each year for the next four years by making healthcare more efficient.

But MPs on the Health Select Committee [2] have today called for nurses, hospital doctors, public health experts and local communities to be represented on the consortiums. The consortiums should also:

  • have a publicly accountable chief executive and finance director;
  • have an independent chair;
  • should hold open meetings and publish all their papers;
  • should be clearly accountable to the NHS Commissioning Board; and
  • should be called NHS Commissioning Authorities, so that their purpose is clear.

The Committee believes that these changes would mean that separate Health and Wellbeing Boards will not be required and the commissioning of primary, secondary and community care can be managed together through the new Commissioning Authorities.

Jenny Baker, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour UK, welcomed the proposals. "It is vital that the Government listens carefully to MPs, charities, healthcare professionals and the public at this pivotal moment in the NHS's future," she said.

"In its drive to reduce bureaucracy, the Government must not sacrifice democracy and public accountability. These balancing measures, proposed by the Health Committee, are one way of ensuring greater efficiency in the delivery of higher quality healthcare, whilst ensuring that vulnerable patients do not fall through the gaps."

ENDS

1. The healthcare reforms were launched by Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health, in an Equity and Excellence White Paper. They are currently being enacted through the Health and Social Care Bill 2011.

2. The Health Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure, of the Department of Health and its associated bodies.