GP group says Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms are already working

Reforms to the NHS are already under way and working well doctors claimed after Andrew Lansley insisted that change was essential.
GP group says Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms are already workingThe head of a doctors’ group said that new bodies led by GPs have taken over from managers across the country, and are improving services to patients while saving money by reducing pressure on hospitals.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, defended the changes by saying that neither medics nor the public wanted to be “pawns in the system” any more.

But he was warned that the power GPs appear to have been given to buy treatment is just an “illusion” and that they will end up merely rationing care in order to save money.

It comes after the Health Secretary, Mr Lansley, wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the NHS faces a £20 billion a year funding black hole unless it undergoes major surgery.

His Health and Social Care Bill proposes abolishing two tiers of management and allowing new GP-led bodies, called commissioning consortia, to buy £60billion a year of treatment from either state-run hospitals or private providers.

It has been bitterly opposed by much of the medical establishment on the grounds it may fragment services and lead to backdoor privatisation, and the legislation was put on “pause” by David Cameron after Liberal Democrats and peers threatened a rebellion.

But BBC Radio 4’s Today programme heard on Thursday that many of the changes are already happening on the ground, as clusters of GPs form consortia to take over from Primary Care Trusts.

Dr Dixon of the NHS Alliance said: “The evidence is in our report, showing over 20 commissioning groups already delivering better services for their patients and also delivering them more cost effectively.

“For instance, in this country the use of hospitals is disproportionately more than anywhere else in the world and those commissioning groups are showing how they can look after patients better in the community.

“If the commissioner is king, they can get the right balance of private and public and the right balance of competition and collaboration.”

Asked why more GPs were not in favour of the new regime, he replied: “To look after our whole patient population is quite an added responsibility and I think some people find that quite daunting.”

But he went on: “Many of us in this commissioning movement are fed up with being pawns in the system and fed up with our patients being pawns in the system.

“We feel that if we can make sure the NHS is delivering change and improvement from the bottom up instead of having to listen to targets coming down from Whitehall, that often don’t mean much to us, we can actually make a difference.”


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