Going private

In all the fuss over the proposal for a new ‘GP led health centre’ in central Swindon, there’s one argument that I find rather empty, and that’s whether the centre might or should be run by a ‘private provider’. Today’s letter to the Adver from the Whalebridge Practice has raised the point again.

We have reservations about the planned introduction of so-called polyclinics and private providers and question if such ventures are wanted, needed or provide an effective use of valuable resources.

What seems to be forgotten is that the existing GP practices are not as public-sector as some might think. The GPs run their own practices under contract to the NHS: they are not employees of the NHS in the way that a nurse is. I wonder whether what is concerning the GPs more, as has often concerned them during the sixty years of the NHS, is the threat to their independence that these centres might pose. Although branded as ‘GP led’, with some of the commercial organisations that have expressed an interest, it is clear that they may not be ‘GP controlled’.