GPs won’t be gagged by NHS shake up

Date published: 21 December 2012

A DOCTORS’ leader has denied suggestions that Oldham GPs will be banned from speaking to the media when they sign up to a ruling body.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams had criticised a decision by Oldham’s new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) — the body that will replace Primary Care Trusts in April, 2013, to manage health spending — for insisting GPs who join the board must sign gagging clauses.

Independent GP practices are currently free to speak publicly and to the media about PCT business. Only Oldham and Dorset’s CCGs are insisting on the clause.

The Labour MP said: “It’s not right that GPs at such a high level of decision making should be constrained by a gagging clause when they will be spending millions of pounds of public money.

“The message given off by this constraint only adds to my concern about the Government’s plans for the NHS and it seems rather ironic that this is happening at a time when the Government is emphasising the importance of freedom of speech.”

But Denis Gizzi, chief operating officer at NHS Oldham CCG, said: “Oldham GPs can and will continue to be free to speak publicly, we are in no way banning freedom of speech for GPs in Oldham.

“Our aim is to make sure any comments made on behalf of the CCG and about the CCG itself are representative of all its members.

“That is why the constitution acknowledges that statements on behalf of the CCG should be agreed by the governing body.”