Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Thursday 6th November 7.30pm

Health & Well Being Scrutiny Committee

This was a very health focused meeting with agenda items on GP provision, and updates on proposed changes to improve the PCT’s commissioning of services.


Under GP Provision the committee wanted to look at whether there were enough GPs in the borough to meet demand and whether there was equality of access to GP surgeries in all areas of the borough. There has been particular concern expressed about Worcester Park and whether there was sufficient GP capacity to meet the growing population of the area as a result of the expansion of The Hamptons Estate.


The PCT representatives at the meeting explained that Sutton’s GP to patient ratio was a little better than the national average, and it was confirmed that there was still spare capacity in local GP practices to take on new patients. From the information provided the committee was unable to determine whether there were any pockets where there was inadequate coverage.


The committee also learnt that there was little concern amongst borough GPs about the plans locally regarding polyclinics as the PCT approach was to move to a hub and spoke model and would not be forcing GP practices to merge into larger practices.


With the idea in mind that GP capacity was one thing, quality of GP provision was also an important factor, I asked about how GPs’ performance is monitored. It emerged that there are formal protocols in place to ensure that GPs are regularly appraised & offered relevant training to support their fitness to practice. It did appear to me that this process invested a great deal of power in just a few senior medical practitioners, however I was reassured that procedures were undertaken to avoid any compromise of independence.


Under Strengthening Commissioning the PCT reps talked about how they were hoping to improve service provision to meet new standards by looking to separate the PCT’s roles of commissioning services and those providing services. There were hopes to aggregate commissioning decision-making by working with other local PCTs and thereby strengthening the effectiveness of the commissioning group.


Whilst recognising the benefits of a larger commissioning body, I had concerns about retaining local accountability for the decisions. It was explained that there were plans for a joint committee to be set up with Local Authority representatives on the board. However the PCT would remain accountable to local authorities in the same way as the present.


December 1, 2008 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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