Only a fraction of GPs had to participate in an election to be appointed to the boards of the new Clinical Commissioning Groups, new research has found.
The study by Pulse found that an astonishing 95% of doctors were not elected and, although almost all positions were open for election, only 7% were challenged.
Dr Una Duffy, a GP from Luton, Bedfordshire, says there is a “widespread apathy to commissioning” and that the majority of doctors are happy to let “enthusiasts get on with it”.
The investigation was conducted amid claims of a ‘jobs for the boys’ culture where elections were not inclusive of salaried GPs, locums or even female doctors.
Nearly 1,000 board posts across 150 prospective groups were examined during the study. Research found that although the majority were open for election, less than a tenth were challenged by alternative candidates.
The findings have raised concerns that a host of board members are now working without proper authority after 213 positions were filled without a vote being cast.
Not only do the results indicate a lack of engagement with the switch to CCGs than ministers and the Government has declared, but they also raise worries around the level of grassroots general practice interest.
Dr Peter Holden, General Practitioner Committee negotiator, says the results of the study highlight the ‘pathetic’ level of engagement GPs have with the switch to clinical-based commissioning.
“It proves that people driving this are enthusiasts,” he said. “My belief is competition is healthy for democracy. If these people have just walked in there they may not have the confidence of the profession that such a victory might imply.
“My concern is the average GP has not realised the power of the CCGs. If we've elected people into positions of absolute power and authority without any means of calling them to account, we've just signed out own death warrant.”
The BMA has now issued guidance advising that CCG’s repeat elections when they are legally responsible for commissioning. The Association also called for ‘periodic re-mandating’ every three years to ensure grassroots general practices have their say.