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12-09-2010 | Article

A leap into the unknown

A battle is underway to win the hearts and minds of GPs over how to run consortia and commission care in the new-look National Health Service (NHS). As quoted in a univadis GP news article (click here), GPs are going to be "bombarded" with offers of information and no doubt help. While it is nice to be offered support, I suspect that money and influence are going to be important factors behind such offers. The British Medical Association GPs Committee (GPC) suggests that Local Medical Committees should be the first port of call. That may not be such a bad idea, as at least these organisations are likely to be supportive of GPs. However, I am worried that there may not be sufficient expertise within the current GP support network to get commissioning and consortia up and running. Even worse, the rules of the game are not yet known - the GPC acknowledges that the legal framework governing this is not fully in place. Despite this, I am sure that the pressure will be on to form GP consortia and get them fully functional in a relatively short period of time. GPs will have to get involved and no doubt we will have lots of offers of help from a number of parties with various agendas, not necessarily aligned with our own. Interesting times ahead!

Elsewhere in the news, a Cochrane review has concluded that there are no reliable, effective or safe interventions for morning sickness in pregnant women (click here). It may well be difficult to tell an affected patient this information, but at least this knowledge is based on good evidence from a trusted resource.

Meanwhile, a report that the NHS IT (Information Technology) programme is being scaled back came as no great surprise (click here). Politically, it was a monument to the ideals and strategy of a previous administration, while financially it is a costly enterprise and so an easy target to make savings. However, without a decent and well financed IT strategy, the NHS will always struggle to be productive. Let's hope that the lessons learned so far will be applied to shape the future direction of IT within the NHS.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief

By Dr Harry Brown