HOW will the changes to the NHS affect your organisation?
The Act gives GPs a unique opportunity to work together and share skills and best practice.
GPs in Hillingdon have created a new organisation – Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG) – made up of all GP practices across the borough. Working together in this group, we have already made significant improvements in health care services – for example we are the first London borough to test and launch the new free NHS 111 service.
Now when someone feels unwell in Hillingdon, they can call NHS 111 and will be advised where to go in order to receive the best treatment for their condition.
Do you welcome the changes to the NHS the Act brings, or are there elements you like and dislike?
I support the bill. With GPs holding the majority budget for services, we will have greater access to a range of skills and experiences.
We see at first hand every day the way our community and hospital services deliver care. We get feedback from patients and correspondence from their clinicians.
The innovations in the Act allow us to explore and discuss all available and emerging treatments with the patient and clinical professionals.
How will it change the relationship you have with patients?
The responsibilities will improve our relationship with patients and their relationship with us. We see engaging and involving our patients as key to maintaining a successful health service.
That is why we are redesigning the way we involve patients in our commissioning intentions and creating patient participation groups in our practices.
How do you think the emphasis on competition and choice, and the introduction of GP commissioning boards, affect health services?
In all sectors, competition and choice benefits consumers, and this also applies in NHS services. A major challenge is the imperative to deliver an affordable model of health care in a health and social care economy that is financially balanced. Hillingdon GPs have made significant improvements in prescribing, and we have the lowest prescribing spend in north-west London. We have also achieved a £12million saving in planned care referrals.
The Act explicitly supports the core principles of the NHS which are: care provided free at the point of use, funded from general taxation and based on need, not ability to pay.
Why do you think the changes have been implemented now and is it the right time to be restructuring the NHS?
The NHS is under enormous pressure. We have a growing and ageing population; more people have long-term conditions like diabetes; and the cost of new drugs and treatments are increasing.
The NHS budget cannot meet all these demands as it is currently organised, and we need to find new ways of providing services and treating people. It is a reflection of the seriousness of the situation that all these changes are happening at once.
I am confident that by GPs, clinicians and patients working together, we will get it right.
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