Camden residents petition to protect the NHS

Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaigners at a protest last year. Pictures: Nigel Sutton

Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaigners at a protest last year. Pictures: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Campaigners concerned by changes to the health service coming into force this year handed their demands to Caz Sayer, the new head of Camden’s clinical commissioning body, ahead of a public meeting last Wednesday (January 16).

They asked for transparency and a say in the way the new GP commissioning groups will buy health care for patients.

NHS training manager and Highgate resident, Declan O’Brien, 56, said: “The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is fundamentally groups of doctors organising and buying our healthcare.

“We need to make sure that there are proper safeguards against conflicts of interest that could come from that.”

Changes to the NHS will put groups of GPs in control of buying and delivering health care under the commissioning group.

Dr Sayer said: “We are absolutely committed to involving patients in the commissioning of services and are continually looking for new and innovative ways to do this.” She added: “CCG is keen to engage constructively with all groups that represent patients and to involve as many members of the public as possible.”

GPs have agreed to review the constitution of the group in line with residents’ wishes.

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From April this year, the commissioning group will replace the current primary care trust, although the transition has already begun.

In March last year, national campaign group False Economy showed that senior GPs were forced to spend an increasing amount of time away from patients to set up the new bodies.

In Camden, seven GPs were paid a total of £144,000 to work away from their surgeries and set up the local commissioning group between 2011 and 2012.