A survey of more than 1,000 GPs and practice managers by medical indemnity provider the Medical Protection Society (MPS) revealed that 59% were afraid of losing patient trust through their role in the new NHS.
The survey indicates that the new regulations enforcing competition in CCG commissioning are unpopular with the majority of GPs, who see a threat to the doctor-patient relationship.
MPS warned that without “clear and robust governance structures and processes” within CCGs to deal “openly” with perceived conflicts of interest, public confidence in the new NHS could be eroded.
Dr Richard Stacey, Editor of the new WPS journal Practice Matters, said: “MPS has always had concerns that CCGs could place GPs in a potentially challenging position of being not just the patient advocate but also the budget holder, and we believe this leaves GPs vulnerable to accusations of conflicting interests. This survey not only confirms MPS’s fears but those of GPs and practice managers.”
Responding to the survey findings, Dr Mark Porter, Chair of the BMA Council, commented: “The BMA believes that any GP who has financial interests in a private sector company that might be awarded contracts in their area should consider seriously whether they should be a member of a (CCG) governing body.”
He added that the economic pressures facing the NHS will threaten patient and public confidence in GPs, as they will come to be seen as rationers rather than providers of services: “Ministers must ensure that CCGs have an appropriate level of resources so that they can meet the needs of their patients.”