Doctors sign up early for plans

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DOCTORS surgeries in St Helens are among the first wave of GP groups to sign up early for the Government’s plans to “modernise” the NHS.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that a string of local practices have signed up to play an increasing role in commissioning healthcare – two years before the policy is due to come into full effect. Each of the practices has been selected for “pathfinder” groups after demonstrating their readiness to start taking on commissioning responsibilities.

The local United League Commissioning GP consortium has already developed a rapid response home visit scheme in St Helens in a bid to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions.

Dr Shikha Pitalia, chair of the group, said: “Local GPs are excited at the opportunities presented by pathfinder status for improving clinical services.

“We are confident that simple yet effective changes can be successfully implemented to make a tangible difference to the health of our local population.”

Critics argue that the coalition Government’s plan will result in more paperwork and stress for GPs as they effectively mop up some of the administrative work currently undertaken by Primary Care Trusts.

But Andrew Lansley MP said: “As part of our plans to modernise the NHS, we are taking power away from bureaucrats and handing it to GPs and patients.

“In cutting out tiers of bureaucracy, the NHS will be more responsive to patients’ needs and have more to spend on patient care. This is a truly bottom-up response, as demonstrated by the varying shape and size of the GP pathfinder groups.

The speed of uptake is also highly encouraging.

It demonstrates significant will on the part of GPs and nurses to get on with designing and purchasing NHS services, so that outcomes can improve for patients.”