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"Consultants ignored as GPs takeover in Bexley"

PUBLISHED: 09:49 03 February 2011

Dr Howard Stoate

Dr Howard Stoate

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A consultant claims he and his colleagues are being ignored after GPs took control of healthcare in the borough.

Consultant Dr Andrew Bamji

Rheumatology and rehabilitation consultant Dr Andrew Bamji has been holding clinics at Erith hospital in Park Crescent, Erith, since 1983, but says he was not consulted about the proposed changes for the site which include housing library services and a gym.

Plans include London Ambulance Service bringing walking wounded to the centre for urgent care, holding smoking cessation and obesity clinics and the site opening from 8am to 8pm. Similar centres are also planned for Crayford, Clocktower and Frognal areas.

Dr Bamji said: “I wish the GPs at Erith hospital had consulted the consultants on the changes they propose to make. I have been doing clinics there since 1983. Consultants have a lot of experience but they pick holes in things which I think is the reason they are not being consulted on re-organisation within the NHS.”

Bexley GPs became one of the first in the country to take over the responsibilities from the Primary Care Trust, when they were handed power in December, before Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s White Paper even had reading in the House of Commons.

Eyebrows were raised when GPs across the country were given the go ahead to take over services before the White Paper even had passed its first parliamentary hurdle. Already eight groups GP consortiums across London are in charge and 52 ‘pathfinders’ across England have been selected to pilot the new structure.

The pilots were given the go ahead before a report by a cross-party committee criticised the plans on January 18, describing them as a “surprise approach” because they were not published in the coalition agreement.

Head of the Bexley consortium and former Labour MP for Dartford Dr Howard Stoate said: “The health select committee raises some interesting points, many of which echo the experience of GPs in Bexley.

“Bexley’s GPs certainly agree that they are best placed to make decisions on the healthcare delivered to local people. The committee also refers to the need for innovative proposals in primary care as well as for hospital care.

“Bexley is in the vanguard of this sort of innovation, with an award-winning cardiology scheme which sees local people go to Harley Street for scans, a diabetes scheme which is seeing more people treated by their GP rather than in hospital and a range of other schemes which aim to ensure that local people receive world-class health services.”

But a report published by the Royal College of GPs on Tuesday (1) revealed that approximately 60 per cent of doctors disagree with reforms and do not believe they will improve patient care. 70 per cent think the reforms will not improve the relationship between GPs and hospital consultants, and there are serious doubts over whether they will cut red tape in the NHS.

More than 70 per cent of GPs said they also ‘disagreed’ or “strongly disagreed” that plans to create a bigger market in healthcare, using private companies, would improve the NHS.

Parliament began debating the 500 page health and social care bill on Monday (31), and if it gets the support from the majority of MPs, it will put GPs in control of around £80 billion.

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