Local doctors lead the way

bassetlaw GPs are leading the way for brand-new Government NHS reforms which will give them greater control over patient services.

They are one of 52 groups selected across the country to become trailblazers in leading the commisioning services reform as part of a recently-published NHS White Paper: Liberating the NHS: Equity and Excellence.

Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health, visited Retford Primary Care Centre recently to discuss the plans.

The selected groups, or ‘pathfinders’, will work together to manage their local budgets and commission services for patients directly with other NHS and local authorities.

The move comes ahead of GP consortia taking on statutory responsibilities when the PCTs disband in April 2013.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann welcomed the plans and said giving GPs greater control will improve the overall patient experience.

“I think it will work well in a small, contained area such as Bassetlaw, as we have a coherent number of GPs and high-quality practices,” he said.

“As long as we are getting the best GPs, they can discuss and debate what is going to happen to patient healthcare.”

Executive chairman of the Bassetlaw Commissioning Organisation and Larwood GP Dr Steve Kell said the group formed in May this year and has been making excellent progress.

“GPs really understand the needs and desires of their patients, and putting doctors at the centre of commissioning will create a much more efficient and cost-effective service,” he said.

“Patients will notice many improvments, for example in terms of patient pathways, more effective systems and being able to utilise hospitals earlier.”

These pathfinders will now begin testing the new commissioning plans before the official arrangements come into place.

Health bosses say that GPs being in charge will enable them to provide high quality care tailored to the specific needs of their patients and the wider community. They also say local decision making will help to cut down on unecessary bureaucracy - leading to more effective outcomes for patients and more efficicent use of NHS services.

Director of commissioning development at NHS East Midlands Wendy Saviour said she was delighted Bassetlaw is one of three consortia in the region leading the way.

“The three consortia have demonstrated their readiness and enthusiasm to grasp the opportunities presented by the NHS White Paper,” she said.

“The pathfinder programme will enable groups of GPs to test the new commissioning arrangements and help shape the plans for the move to GPs commissioning health services on behalf of their patients.”