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According to the Government GPs aren’t up to buying flu vaccines, but they are up to buying everything else!

Filed Under (GP Commissioning, Health Policy, Reform of the NHS) by Paul on 20-01-2011

I might have missed something overnight, but I expected to wake up this morning to hear the Government extolling the capacity of GPs to commission the nation’s health care. It is after all their policy.

Instead I wake up to hear the Health Protection Agency saying why, for a variety of very plausible reasons, GPs do not have the capacity to buy the nation’s flu vaccine – and why they are almost certainly going to have their duty to buy the nations flu vaccine taken away. In future it will be done by the DH.

There are certainly good arguments for this, but presumably the Government also believes that it’s a good idea for doctors with much better local knowledge to buy the vaccine and not faceless bureaucrats at the DH.

The arguments for GP commissioning of NHS care are the same arguments in favour of GPs commissioning the flu vaccine.

The arguments against GP commissioning of NHS care are the same arguments against GPs commissioning the flu vaccine.

Somehow the Government finds itself arguing against itself on the very morning when the press is full of the Bill.

To say the least this is very odd.

There are four issues of competence here..

First, there has been a fuss about flu that has shaken the Secretary of State a little. This is a small fuss compared to the normal day to day rough and tumble of health politics. The response to this fuss is to nationalise the activity. That’s an understandable response, but it just happens to be going in the opposite direction to Government policy.

Second, this would not be so bad if the Health Protection Agency had been kept as a separate body from the DH. If that was the case then the Government could say that this recommendation did not come from the Government but from an independent body. But the Government have decided to take away the independence of the Health Protection Agency and to make it become a part of the DH. It is not a good idea to stop the separation of the HPA from the Government and this is an example of that.

Third, in the middle of the panic about flu nobody seems to have noticed that the policy is in contradiction to the main plank of Government policy. This new policy on flu vaccine may give opponents to the Government’s health reform an opportunity to show how the Government is developing a real world argument against its own policy. I would not be surprised if this came up in the Second Reading Debate as an argument against GP commissioning.

Finally, to announce this on the same day as the press is talking about the bill shows that no one is really looking at what the DH is doing over all

Today the press is, at best, sceptical about the Government’s Health Reforms. At worst they are fearful.

The issue for the coming year will not be this or that aspect of reform but will be about the competence of the Government to both be responsible for the NHS and responsible for reforming it.

I have my doubts……….


2 Responses to “According to the Government GPs aren’t up to buying flu vaccines, but they are up to buying everything else!”

  1. As far as I could tell, this came from David Salisbury who is in the DH I think, and not the HPA. I have always thought that he was someone who had the ability to score an own goal from almost any angle.

  2. […] According to the Government GPs aren’t up to buying flu vaccines, but they are up to buying ev… […]

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