Pathfinders identified to lead NHS reforms

The first groups of GPs who will take the lead in the Government’s plans for commissioning health services have been announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The 52 groups of GP practices from across England have been selected to be the first to take on commissioning responsibilities as part of the Government’s plans set out in the NHS White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. The groups selected, known as pathfinders, will work together to manage their local budgets and commission services for patients direct with other NHS colleagues and local authorities.

The pathfinders will now begin testing the new commissioning arrangements to ensure they are working well before more formal arrangements come into place. By being in charge of the decisions that affect their patients, the pathfinders will be able to commission high quality care tailored to the specific needs of their patients and the wider community.

The GP pathfinders announced today include 1860 GP practices that provide healthcare to 12.8 million people across England. This means around a quarter of the population can start to benefit from their doctors’ proven clinical leadership, good partnership working with local authorities, and innovative ways of engaging with patients and the local community. This is just the start – more GP consortia have come forward to join the pathfinder programme which will enable as many consortia as possible to test out the new arrangements at an early stage before GP consortia take on statutory responsibilities from April 2013.

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