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GPs need pharma expertise

Published on 05/10/05 at 10:12am

GPs are calling out for pharmaceutical companies to provide them with management skills as they take on a new role of commissioning services.

Pharmaceutical companies should promote their management expertise in the form of organising "specialist away days", according to Dr Peter Smith, a leading campaigner for Practice based commissioning (PBC) with close links to NHS decision-makers.

Dr Smith, a practising GP for 13 years, said health secretary Patricia Hewitt "means business" in ensuring there is 100% coverage of PBC by December 2006 but in many cases GPs were not prepared for the change.

Practices, he said, would have to be more collegiate and work together in small clusters if they are to expand their capabilities by commissioning extra services, thus earning more money for their practices.

But in many cases GPs lacked the management skills to work in partnership with other practices while they would also need management support in taking on new commissioning roles, according to Smith.

Dr Smith said that by organising "specialist away days" pharma could provide GPs with crucial expertise in running a business while simultaneously being seen to support a significant change in the provision of health services.

Pharmaceutical companies have in recent years been sceptical about providing services of this nature to GPs, as they do not want to be seen as exploiting their roles as providers of healthcare.

But Dr Smith, speaking at a PM Society event on The Implications for Pharma on Practice-based Commissioning, said pharma should have no scruples about providing this service.

In a further plea to pharma, he said that medical reps should offer more disease management services to GPs, in light of the government's focus on handling long-term conditions in primary care.

In the past, the industry has been accused of over-exploiting disease management as a way of pumping up sales of its products but Dr Smith said GPs were increasingly interested in packages which show disease management.

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