GPs' fears over services transfer

By Ted JeoryDOCTORS have voiced their concerns over a decision by health bosses to transfer a string of services from GP surgeries.Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of the Essex Local Medical Committees, said patients could be inconvenienced by the move by Tendring Primary Care Trust to take back control of a number of services.

By Ted Jeory

DOCTORS have voiced their concerns over a decision by health bosses to transfer a string of services from GP surgeries.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of the Essex Local Medical Committees, said patients could be inconvenienced by the move by Tendring Primary Care Trust to take back control of a number of services.

It is understood that cost considerations and a drive to improve efficiency has prompted trust bosses to commission “non-core” services from their own employees rather than GP practices.


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As a result, patients needing a follow-up appointment about their condition after an operation, including the removal of sutures, will now need to go back to the hospital.

Pre-operative assessments and investigations requested by hospital staff will also now be the responsibility of the hospitals.

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Treatment of long-standing or complex leg ulcers will be dealt with by district nurses, while alcoholics will be seen by community clinics, who will also take over the initiation of insulin programmes.

Administrative tasks including arranging routine patient transport and issuing sick notes for patients under hospital care will also be taken away from GPs.

Dr Balmer told trust bosses he was worried that the staff taking over these services might not be able to cope.

He said: “GPs have already been contacted by district nurses worried whether they have the adequate training, skills and resources to deal with some of these things.

“It will mean extra pressure and if they don't cope the patients will have to come back to GP practices. We've been in lengthy negotiations with the primary care trust about this and our real worry is that the patient will be inconvenienced.

“In most cases, GPs will be happy to lose some of the services. Two of them in particular - sickness certificates and arranging transport - are admin tasks and really practices shouldn't be doing them.

“But there are other services which GPs like looking after. Some doctors are upset they're losing the insulin service, for example.

“But the decision has been taken and now we'll be monitoring it to see how it goes. Patients will not be at risk though.”

Philip Ainsworth, the trust's director of commissioning, said: “Following extensive and lengthy negotiations relating to the commissioning of a number of 'non-core' health services, the trust has decided to commission some of these services from different provider organisations.

“Those services will in future be provided by staff directly employed by the trust who work in our community. It is worth stressing that all of the current services continue to be provided.

“However, the trust has continued to commission a number of services from its local GP practices, including phlebotomy, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring and neo-natal checks.

“The trust feels confident that the services commissioned from both the GPs and trust staff will provide excellent services to the Tendring public.”

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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