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Effective GP Commissioning: Essential knowledge, skills and attitudes

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Title: Effective GP Commissioning: Essential knowledge, skills and attitudes 

Author: Dr Sunil Gupta

Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing, 2012

Reviewer: Liz Lees, consultant nurse and clinical dean, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Heartlands Hospital

What was it like?

This book is designed in four sections that encompass:

  1. commissioning
  2. the knowledge needed
  3. the skills required
  4. essential attitudes

It will enable its readers to dip in and out to identify explanations for issues that they encounter in practice. It has 52 short chapters spanning numerous topics encompassing an eclectic collection of core managerial topics. The vast majority of the book is readable in short bursts and is presented, mostly, as a series of bullet points. It provides a basic overview of commissioning and a breadth of general management topics. Analysis and referencing have been kept to a bare minimum, which will appeal to those readers who may be simply familiarising themselves with many new topics, simultaneously.


Strengths & weaknesses:

It is a great pity that a few of the chapters are barely more than a couple of paragraphs that outline minimum facts on critical areas at the foundation of commissioning in the NHS. For example, the finance chapter is particularly weak, especially in the current financial climate. Without doubt, it would have benefitted from being linked to the chapters on political climate and money-saving ideas. Chapters 9 (budgets) and 10 (business plans) contain helpful steps, which could have been further illuminated with the aid of “worked examples” to further engage readers and aid application in practice. Other contributors to the topics may have added more importance to the subjects selected.

What were the highlights? 

I enjoyed the chapters on assessment of local need/population and would like to have seen much more, together with creation of new services/pathways, as this is an area where engagement and understanding of the wider multidisciplinary team is critical. I also liked some of the controversial perspectives that were discussed in further chapters. I felt this grounded the book in reality and lent it a soul and spirit, outside of its bullet point/list format.

Who should read it?

This book is best suited to junior clinical or operational (management) staff in relatively new roles. It is sufficiently adequate to whet the reader’s appetite prior to locating in-depth information regarding knowledge, skills and attitudes.

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