This week I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of other stakeholder groups to talk about what the reforms will mean for them.
I spoke alongside John Black at a regional visit of the College of Surgeons. About 60 surgical colleagues attended. I was encouraged by the rational tone of the debate, away from the lurid media headlines. There was recognition of the challenges ahead – they even knew what QIPP stood for! Also, there was a welcoming of greater clinical leadership in commissioning. I assured them that GPs weren’t going to rush off redesigning surgical pathways without specialist input.
The main anxieties were around the potential impact of competition on the quality of services. It is interesting to see this week that Circle have decided to test the tension between access to the market and the role of commissioners in controlling the use of resources by referring two PCTs to the Co-operation and Competition Panel. The outcome of this will tell us much about the future role of commissioners, I suspect.
Later in the week I had the pleasure of speaking to colleagues from local optometry committees across the region. They were keen to understand the new relationships and particularly how they might work together to help commissioners use best practice models to deliver more productive services.
From both meetings the importance of clinical networks came through. Their ability to identify best practice and influence providers’ behaviour through peer pressure and quality monitoring will be very useful to commissioners and should serve patients well.