Abstract A number of policy initiatives over the last few years have encouraged general practitioners (GPs) to participate in commissioning, as opposed to simply purchasing, health care. This role was reinforced in the white paper, The New NHS. A qualitative study of GPs in two health authorities uncovered not only concerns about the reforms which have since emerged in the medical and general press, but other issues which have been less frequently articulated. There was also evidence of goodwill towards professional colleagues, including those in social services departments. The preference for professional, as opposed to market relationships may help to secure the collaborative ethos desired by government. However, if the concerns the study uncovered are indicative of a more widespread response to the white paper, they suggest the need for careful support of developing Primary Care Groups (PCGs).