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Primary care key to the success of the NHS, says minister

22 October 2009

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An innovative primary care is “key to the success of the NHS”, health minister Mike O’Brien told NHS Alliance conference delegates yesterday (21 October 2009).

Speaking to an audience of GPs, practice nurses, primary care clinicians and managers, Mr O’Brien (pictured) said that primary care played a vital role in “improving quality while cutting out unnecessary costs, such as avoidable stays in hospital” and “making sure that patients get the right care at the right time and that the NHS gets value for money.”

He said this has always been the vision behind practice-based commissioning (PBC), and that putting clinicians at the heart of PCT commissioning was all the more important as patients are being given a wider choice of practices to register with.

“The long-term health of our communities can only be achieved through genuine partnership between PCTs and practice-based commissioners,” said Mr O’Brien, who was appointed as health minister in June this year.

He also warned that during these challenging times, he did not want to see PCTs cutting services or implementing “knee-jerk budget cuts”. He said PCTs should be exploring creative options for releasing funds from existing budgets, and pledged to “name and shame those that imposed ‘slash and burn’ cuts in spending”.

Mr O’Brien said: “Innovation and clinical leadership need to become as deeply ingrained in the psyche of the NHS as being funded by the taxpayer and being free at the point of delivery.”

Department of Health