Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today met health professionals and officials in Dudley to discuss the local impact of the modernisation of health and care.
In a round table discussion with GPs and health partners from social care, public health, the NHS, voluntary sector and local authority, Mr Lansley asked where they were experiencing both ‘opportunities and restraints’ and sought their views on a range of issues, including:
- the engagement of local GPs in the pathfinder consortia
- the opportunities for GPs to become clinical leaders in their areas of interest such as mental health services
- how to ensure the knowledge and experience of nurses is plugged in to commissioning consortia
- how the PCT is handling the transition and whether there is anything in danger of being lost from PCTs
- the local work around public health.
Dudley already has a strong GP commissioning set-up and its five practice-based commissioning groups had decided to merge into one before last year’s White Paper. It is now a pathfinder consortium and will take on the PCT’s £350m commissioning budget in April, acting as a PCT sub-committee. It has also used nurses as well as therapists to lead on specific issues.
A discussion on public health highlighted that Dudley Council is one of the early implementers of health and wellbeing boards and believes this will strengthen its work.
One GP asked if, at the end of the modernisation process, the NHS would be as intact as before, and said that preference should be given to NHS bodies when commissioning health services, so that there was no chance of fragmentation. ‘We don’t want to see any section of the population left without high class services,’ the GP added.
Mr Lansley replied that the concern about providers partly stems from misunderstanding and that the new arrangements could reduce the extent of competitive tendering because if a provider meets the required quality, GPs can invite it to provide services. He added that the system will be driven by quality so there would be no undercutting.