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General practice pathfinders now cover more than half the country

In his speech yesterday, The Prime Minister welcomed the groundswell of support from general practices that are now at the vanguard of modernising our NHS.

General Practice leadership is essential in order to deliver a patient-centred and efficient NHS.


That’s why we are encouraged by the second wave of pathfinders (a further 89 groups) that have put themselves forward to dry run the Coalition Government’s modern commissioning arrangements. This takes the total to 141 groups of GP practices of various shapes and sizes from across England.


As a big step towards delivering the plans set out in the Government’s NHS White Paper Liberating the NHS: Equity and Excellence, the groups, known as pathfinders, will work together to manage their local budgets and purchase services for patients direct with other NHS colleagues and local authorities.


The GP pathfinders announced include practices providing healthcare to 28.6 million people across England. In addition to the first wave, this means over 50% of the population can start to benefit from their doctors’ proven clinical leadership, good partnership working with local authorities, and innovative ways of engaging with patients and the local community.


This early progress reaches beyond our expectations – and there will be yet more GP consortia coming forward to join the pathfinder programme, which will enable as many consortia as possible to test out the new arrangements at an early stage before GP consortia take on statutory responsibilities from April 2013.


[quote top=Andrew Lansley said] If we want better results for patients and a more efficient NHS, then we must devolve power to General Practices. This second group of selected pathfinders is welcome evidence of widespread enthusiasm for taking these ideas forward.[/quote]


He continued to comment “It is clear that GPs and nurses are ready and willing to take on commissioning responsibilities, the pathfinders to date demonstrate this but most importantly, the changes will enable them to make the decisions that better meet the needs of their local communities and improve outcomes for their patients.”


Patients are already seeing the benefits of local commissioning where consortia have been formed. The Croydon Healthcare Consortium, which serves a culturally and economically diverse population, are already leading the way in improving patient access to diagnostics, treatment and care. In response to feedback from patients, the Consortia was able to introduce a pilot locating mobile screening clinics at six Croydon GP practices to provide heart monitoring and ultrasound.