More GP control

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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.

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.”

Mr Mann added that the GPs’ new powers could even force a U-turn on the postponed public consultation for the clinical services review.

The PCT-led review is proposing major changes at Bassetlaw Hospital which involve some services being shifted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

Said Mr Mann: “Our GPs live in our area and they rely on the very services they are making the decisions about, which I think is very important.”

“I would rather trust them on the future of our hospital than the PCT which is run by people who don’t live in our area.”

“As the GPs are going to have control of this, I think it would be absurd of the PCT to take any further decisions over the review.”

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.”

The Guardian approached the PCT for information on when the clinical services review has been postponed until, but was told this decision would be taken at this week’s board meeting on Wednesday.

For a full report of the meeting pick up a copy of next week’s Guardian.