I may be a little tardy in my response to The White Paper but I like to think that it's because I have been carefully assessing the situation before I state my position. In reality, it has just taken me an awfully long time to get round to reading it (thank goodness for summaries...).
My reaction to the government's big shake up has been mixed. It started with irritation that such huge responsibility was being handed to GP's without a hint of consultation with us first. That inevitably lead to terror - we are not managers, how on earth could we cope with what enormous PCTs have dealt with up until now (with much complaining from us about how bad a job they were doing of course)?
But the truth is we asked for this. When we grumbled about big funding decisions being made by suits and not doctors, when we've complained bitterly about new systems forced on us by managers, when we've just wasted yet another consultation ticking boxes of no discernible use. So now we've got what we wanted and the question is, can we handle it?
In a word, yes.
We'll have to work together and cooperate like never before and yes, we will need help with managing the books, but let's not forget that we are being handed an incredible opportunity here to transform our NHS. No longer will we have to put up with systems that don't work (bye bye choose and book), or have to accept second rate services. We can change them.
Of course there are threats as well: what happens if the money runs out (many PCTs found themselves in this scenario, so it's pretty likely to happen to GP consortia too)? How do we achieve the balance between being both advocates for our patients but also the purse holders? How will we ensure that we can work together without squabbling about individual practices' needs? What about practices who let the side down?
To me however, the potential for good outweighs the bad, and it's up to us to make sure this is so. We've got time to put forward our opinions and ideas to help shape the detail of these plans, so let's get involved and seize this opportunity. This change is coming whether we like it or not, don't let's be dragged kicking and screaming.