Thursday, 19 August 2010

NHS Reform - What does it mean for Elmbridge?

The government's NHS White Paper sets out plans for radical reform of local NHS services. One key proposal is to give local GPs the power to commission local NHS services in place of the Primary Care Trust (PCTs). The aim is to put professional doctors and nurses in charge - rather than NHS managers - and strengthen local accountability over NHS priorities. Great in principle, but what does it mean in practice?

Today, I visited MEDICS Gateway, a local health organisation bringing together GPs, nurses and specialists with a range of medical expertise. It acts as a referral service from eight local GP practices in Molesey, Esher and the Dittons, serving around 62,000 people. Drawing on the expertise of the local healthcare professionals, it filters referrals - so they are not processed to a larger hospital for consideration, but directed straight to the specialist care or service that can address the patient's needs. It cannot deal with emergency cases and certain other specialisms, but it made over 11,000 referrals in 2009. By cutting out cumbersome procedure, it delivers a better patient service - and saves money.

MEDICS Gateway is exactly the kind of local group that is well-placed to thrive on the new reforms that will see GPs commissioning local NHS services. They are geared up to collaborate more closely with Molesey Hospital to broaden the range of services they can provide - in response to the specific needs of the local community.

We have seen too many short-sighted cuts at our community hospitals in recent years. I will certainly be encouraging the PCT to take advantage of this innovative local model in delivering the NHS reforms the government is introducing.

(Visiting Molesey Hospital with Dr Ash Kapoor, Dr Steve Brant - taking the photo - Sally Bonynge and Ginny Caldwell from Central Surrey Health, and Dr Ken Brown from Friends of Molesey Hospital)


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