GPs ready to go it alone in health shake-up

FAMILY doctors in Suffolk are ready to rise to the challenge of helping to reform the NHS with one union welcoming the Government’s new plans to shake-up the health service.

Janet Massey, one of the county’s leading GPs and the British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) Suffolk secretary, has welcomed the news that GPs will take a leading role in the new-look NHS, as outlined in Monday’s Government White Paper, Liberating the NHS, saying they were “ready and up for the challenge”.

Under the proposals, NHS Suffolk, the county’s primary care trust, and the region’s strategic health authority NHS East of England will be abolished.

In their place GPs will join forces to form consortia and will be given the task of controlling around �70billion of taxpayers’ money currently handled by the PCT and SHA.

An independent NHS Commissioning Board will oversee the new regime, with local councils taking over the public health element of PCT’s work.

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The aim outlined by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is to “put patients at the heart of decisions made about their care (and) put clinicians in the driving seat on decisions about services”.

Dr Massey said the BMA welcomed the new initiatives and said she and her colleagues were more than qualified to take on the challenge.

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She said: “I think because the BMA’s ideas have been integrated it has been welcomed. If you ask GPs to do it, we will do it. We have the qualifications to do the job.

“Any practice is made up of a team which now includes more nurse practitioners, practice nurses and health care assistants.

“These highly-trained and experienced professionals can and do do much of the routine and very necessary preventative and educational tasks.

“We have been running these small businesses and it will not take long for us to be trained up for the new style of working.”

Dr Massey said a number of the key features of the new NHS were health service initiatives which had been in the pipeline for the last few years.

She added areas such as patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which helps provide evidence-based research, were good measures developed by the previous government.

Another highlight for Dr Massey was the proposed change in direction to consultant-led teams in hospitals. She said rather than the present system where patients were referred to departments within NHS trusts, the new structure would allow patients to be directed to specific consultants.

“Knowing a patient is seeing a specific consultant makes it so much easier. It means we will be greater informed of their progress and care.”

Another “wonderful” aspect of the new initiatives welcomed by Dr Massey is the emphasis on moving away from large numbers of administrative staff and focusing instead on the front line.

She said: “We have to have more frontline staff. We have to stop the anxiety of frontline staff who are so dedicated and loyal to their patients and concerned about losing their jobs, they work long hours and fail to look after themselves.

“GPs know frontline staff and are very well placed to help and protect them.”

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