Uttlesford to lead the way in NHS reforms

GP SURGERIES in the Reporter area are to lead the way in the Government’s massive NHS reforms which has the aim of putting GPs in control of local health.

The West Essex Consortia – a confederation of 11 practice-based groups from Epping, Harlow and Uttlesford – has been announced in the second wave of Patherfinders from the east of England.

The five new groups – bringing the total in the region to 12 – are part of the programme to take on commissioning responsibilities when PCTs are dissolved in 2013.

Dr Rysz Bietzk, chairman of the Uttlesford consortium which is one arm of the consortia, is proud that West Essex has been approved to take on the role.

He said: “GPs in the consortia have strong engagement and have been working together for some time. To have got approval is recognition of the process of how we are seen to be working together.”

The consortia is among 89 groups from across the country selected to take part in the programme. They will work together to manage local budgets and commission services for patients direct with other NHS colleagues and authorities.

They will test the new commissioning arrangements before more formal arrangements come into place.

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Dr Bietzk, who works at the Borough Lane surgery in Saffron Walden, admits the intricacies of the project are a work in progress.

But he believes this could be a chance to tailor the healthcare needs of the district’s patients.

“This huge change is about the best use of resources of course, but from a clinicians point of view, it is about giving the best care we can to our patients, in a logical manner. We have felt frustration with that at times,” he said.

“It is about seeing outcomes. We have been so tied up in the journey that we have often forgotten where we are actually going.

“This will take the hurdles away so that GPs can work together with [our colleagues] such as social services, hospitals, carers.

“The key is that it will be locality focused. This is not about taking GPs away from patients, it is about being able to direct resources in the best way possible.”

And this is just the start – more GP consortia have come forward to join the programme to test out the new arrangements at an early stage before they take on statutory responsibilities from April 2013.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that to get “better results for patients and a more efficient NHS, power must be dissolved to GPs”.

He added: “The region’s second group of selected pathfinders is welcome evidence of widespread enthusiasm for taking these ideas forward.

“It is clear that GPs and nurses are ready and willing to take on commissioning responsibilities. Most importantly, the changes will enable them to make the decisions that better meet the needs of their local communities and improve outcomes for their patients.”

The huge upheaval is the single biggest change to the NHS in 60 years. It is predicted that changing to the new format could cost �1.5 billion, but Government assessment’s have estimated potential savings of almost �9 billion.

DO you think the new NHS reforms will be a good thing? E-mail us at editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk