CCGs ‘worsen unequal GP access’
MedWire News: The introduction of CCGs will lead to greater inequity in the distribution of GPs across England, MPs have been warned.
A report from Public Health Manchester put before a Commons Health Committee inquiry shows that poorer health areas already have fewer GPs per weighted population - and that the imbalance will likely be exacerbated by the introduction of CCGs because of further variation within PCT areas.
Currently there is sharp north-south divide in GP distribution, with the North West having a shortfall of 13%, or 620 GPs, while London has an excess of 13%, or 570 GPs.
And GP provision at PCT level ranges from 53% above average in Wandsworth PCT to 27% below average in Nottingham City PCT, according to the report.
But the creation of CCGs "brings the problem of GP distribution into sharper focus", it says.
Under-doctored CCGs in poor areas will be at a "large disadvantage" and find it harder than others to absorb commissioning and budgeting responsibilities. This means they "are likely to be assertive in their demands for a fair share of GPs", resulting in "extensive negotiations between CCGs and the NHS Commissioning Board [NHSCB]".
The report's authors recommend that the NHSCB should: provide start-up funding for new practices in areas with GP shortages; cap list sizes to discourage GPs from building up large lists; and increase financial incentives for salaried GPs to work in poor health areas.
MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012
By Caroline Price