GP uncertainty over NHS overhaul

DOCTORS at a Huntingdonshire GP surgery have “mixed” feelings about radical plans to overhaul the NHS.

The Acorn Surgery, which looks after nearly 8,000 patients within a five-mile radius of Huntingdon, has led the way with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plan for GPs to take responsibility from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

Mr Lansley’s White Paper on NHS reform would scrap the layer of management provided by the PCT and pass its work – commissioning and funding front line services – to GPs.

The plan would give GPs control over NHS budgets – a sum totalling about �80billion across the country.

The Acorn Surgery set up its own “Hunts Health” GP commissioning consortium with nine other surgeries to become one of the first to implement the changes in the UK as part of a ground breaking pilot project.

But while he welcomes “common sense” coming into the commissioning, senior partner Dr Brendan Boyle told The Hunts Post: “It is a mixed thing.

“It does tend to be those involved in frontline services who have the best idea of what is facing patients on a day-to-day basis. However, there is uncertainty about how it is going to pan out. I don’t think any GP would claim to be a financial expert.

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“Overall, I can see that GPs being more closely aligned to commissioning is a positive step.

“However it is about the practicalities. It is difficult when you already work a 10 or 11-hour day.”

Earlier this month, Hunts Health was picked as one of the GP pathfinder groups to lead NHS reform.

Mr Lansley said: “We want to create an NHS that puts patients at the heart of everything it does and is focused on achieving health outcomes that are among the best in the world.”

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, director of commissioning development for NHS East of England, added: “The first wave of pathfinders are groups of GPs who have demonstrated readiness and are genuinely excited about the opportunities presented by the NHS White Paper.

“This is the beginning of a new era in commissioning.”