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Report recommends improved information framework to aid practice-based commissioning

22 February 2007

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The Intelligent Practice, the fourth report in the Intelligent Board series, proposes a basic information framework for GPs – the information necessary to the running of a successful practice.

The report’s steering group – all practising GPs – sees practice-based commissioning (PbC) as the key to the modernisation of the NHS. But effective commissioning depends on effective information. GP commissioners are not currently receiving the information they need to ensure that their local populations receive the best quality health services.

This report is a practical guide for GPs and PCTs. It sets out two frameworks of minimum information requirements: one for every GP and another, more detailed one for lead commissioners.

The key points set out by the report are:

  • The challenge and the potential issues of conflict when GP practices are commissioning services which they themselves provide.
  • The need to achieve a consistent quality of commissioning between GP practices, given the differences in the capabilities and interest of practices in PbC.
  • The essential need for GPs and PCTs to work as a team within the overall support and guidance of SHAs.
  • The immediate need for all PCTs to understand and act on their obligation to provide timely and accurate information to GP commissioners on which they can base their commissioning decisions.
  • The similar obligation on GPs to provide accurate and timely information to PCTs on patient experience, outcomes, etc.
  • The need for direct incentives to GPs to change current referral patterns to provide more appropriate care for patients in the community.

GPs’ unique understanding of their communities, combined with reliable and accurate information, will allow practices to design the best services for local needs.

Steering group member Dr Michael Dixon, GP and chairman of the NHS Alliance, said: “None of us within the health service can commission effectively without accurate and comprehensive data. Too often, that is lacking. In some areas, there is not even agreement as to what information is necessary. This report is an excellent practical aid to developing the information systems we need. It should be essential reading for all GP and PCT commissioners – and for senior managers too.”

To see the report, visit: