Redbridge GP warns of ‘first step’ to NHS privatisation if reforms go ahead

A GP has warned proposed changes to the way the NHS is run could be the “first step” to privatisation.

Dr David Shubhaker, of Barkingside Medical Practice, Cranbrook Road, Barkingside, says he has reservations about government proposals which will see PCTs phased out by 2013 and GPs put in control of paying hospitals directly for the treatment of their patients.

The government has introduced a “pause” as it takes stock of criticism the plans have received.

Dr Shubhaker told the Recorder he is “not agreeable to taking over the accounting and managing”, arguing doctors should be advising on the commissioning of services, rather than taking over the full the functions of PCTs.

And he said asking private companies to act as managers was not necessarily the solution.

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He said: “Getting rid of the PCT and replacing it with a private company, which will not be cheap, will change the whole ethos of commissioning by incurring more expense.”

He also said he feared the changes in their current form would lead to a “destabilising of the NHS”.

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He added: “Opening it up to the private sector will cream off the lighter work, compromising the NHS.”

In Redbridge, GPs last month took near total control of money usually placed into the hands of NHS Redbridge, though the health body is guiding them as they get to grips with their new responsibility.

All of the borough’s 171 GPs across 49 practices are compelled to be a part of the consortia, with training given to them.

Dr Anil Mehta, of Fullwell Cross Medical Centre, Tomswood Hill, Barkingside, said with the “right support” GPs can “bring something new to the mix”.

He added: “The majority of us find change unsettling because we are creature of habit but these proposals present the opportunity for real improvements as well as challenging the status quo of many accepted practices within the NHS.

“It would be na�ve to think GPs can wave a magic wand and cure all ills but putting us in a position where we can bring all our skill and knowledge to bear is long overdue.”

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