Watchdog won’t be able to control GPs – warning

A HEALTH watchdog will have no power to impose sanctions on GPs or veto their decisions when they are given control over NHS purse strings.

The Worcestershire Health and Wellbeing Board is being introduced as part of the radical and highly controversial Health and Social Care Bill now passing through Parliament but questions have been asked about how much power the board will wield.

The Department of Health says the groups will “strengthen the democratic legitimacy of commissioning decisions as well as providing a forum for challenge, discussion and the involvement of local people”, but the boards will have no power to impose sanctions or veto the decisions of GPs (clinical commissioning groups or CCGs) who will take over full control of NHS budgets in April next year.

There will be three CCGs in Worcestershire – Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, South Worcestershire CCG and Wyre Forest CCG.

The board will have between 10 and 15 people on it, including the cabinet member for health and wellbeing (Councillor Marcus Hart), Coun Adrian Hardman, the leader of Worcestershire County Council, the director of adult social care and children’s services, representatives of the patient group HealthWatch and NHS Worcestershire and leaders from the CCGs themselves.

The purpose of the board is to “have strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health care, public health and social care” but David Priestnall, a non-executive director of the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, questioned what powers the board would have to hold GPs to account when they take over the management of NHS budgets during a presentation at a meeting at BHI Parkside in Bromsgrove.

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www.protectmyid.co.uk/id_theft He said: “Are there any other powers they have got? They haven’t got a right of veto but have they got any other sanctions?”

Dr Richard Harling, the director of public health for Worcestershire, who was giving the presentation, said: “It’s not working on the basis of sticks and sanctions.

“If that board gets to that point then we have failed.

“It will be about ongoing dialogue rather than sanctions and sticks.”

Dr Harling said membership of the board formed “a broad church” of people with different interests and that getting communication right would be difficult but would ensure that no section of the community felt disenfranchised.

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