In the forward to the white paper the Government says that “We will make the NHS more accountable to patients. We will free staff from excessive bureaucracy and top-down control. We will increase real terms spending on the health service in every year of this Parliament. First, patients will be at the heart of everything we do. So they will have more choice and control, helped by easy access to the information they need about the best GPs and hospitals. Patients will be in charge of making decisions about their care. Second, there will be a relentless focus on clinical outcomes. Success will be measured, not through bureaucratic process targets, but against results that really matter to patients – such as improving cancer and stroke survival rates. Third, we will empower health professionals. Doctors and nurses must to be able to use their professional judgement about what is right for patients. We will support this by giving front-line staff more control. Healthcare will be run from the bottom up, with ownership and decision-making in the hands of professionals and patients.”
General Practitioner Responsibility
The way in which services are commissioned in the National Health Service has been discussed for some time by politicians and heath sector organisations. Currently Primary Care Trusts are responsible for commissioning services under the influence of Strategic Health Authorities however this structure has been seen to be bureaucratic and wasteful. Under the new system GPs working in groups would be in charge of vast collections of hospital, mental health and community services – although specialist services and dentistry would not fall under their remit. An independent board would then sit above as many as 500 consortiums of GPs to set standards and hold the groups to account.
The belief is that by handing GPs responsibility for commissioning and abolishing Primary Care Trusts & Strategic Health Authorities the Government can improve the effectiveness of localised commissioning and most importantly cut hundreds of millions from the cost of running the NHS.
The Government will now consult on its plans before rolling them out over the next three years.
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