The NHS Alliance has welcomed the views of both the Conservative and Labour parties, expressed at its annual conference last week, that primary care should lead the way to a better and more efficient NHS.
Michael Sobanja, Chief Executive of the NHS Alliance, said: “We are pleased that both parties recognise the importance of primary care.
“We have said time and again that in the current financial crisis, which is likely to get worse, we need to empower clinicians and other frontline professionals to deliver services that meet the needs of their local communities.
“The obvious way to do this is to encourage practice-based commissioning (PBC) and create a system that allows for care to be delivered in an integrated manner, not on paper, but on the ground.”
Last week, Andrew Lansley MP, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Health, said that power should be given to frontline clinicians through PBC and real budgets: “You decide your own contracts. You decide 100% on how to reinvest savings for the benefits of patients,” he said.
GPs should also take responsibility for emergency and urgent care, said Mr Lanlsey. “There is a powerful case for 24/7 urgent care service to go back to GPs, so the NHS Direct, ambulance services, walking centres are all part of one contract.”
Mike O’Brien MP, Minister of State for Health Services, said that primary care is key to NHS success (see below story), adding that reports about PBC’s death have been “greatly exaggerated”.
Mr O’Brien said that some practice-based commissioners will need both support and to learn more skills to do the job well. “Some practice-based commissioners are excellent, some mediocre, some poor,” he said. “World class commissioning will improve skills across the board.”