A new initiative to empower pioneering GPs who want to press ahead with commissioning care for patients was announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today.
The new pathfinder programme will identify and support groups of practices who are keen to make faster progress in taking on the new roles set out in the NHS White Paper 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS' earlier this year. It will enable GPs to test different design concepts of GP Consortia and identify any issues and areas of learning early on so that these can be shared across the GP community.
This invaluable experience will help shape the way GP Consortia will work in the future. By making early progress we will also give the wider commissioning community the confidence to join in and enable Pathfinder Consortia to start taking on aspects of the new roles in commissioning local services.
Announcing the new scheme at the National Association of Primary Care conference, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
"I have spoken to and met many GPs around the country who want to take control of commissioning services. The proposals in the NHS White Paper will allow them to do this in the future, but I want to give them the opportunity to make early progress now.
"That is why I am inviting emerging GP Consortia to put themselves forward and become new and innovative Pathfinder Consortia. I want to empower those that want to make progress and press ahead with change.
"No-one should feel they must wait to make progress and I will ensure they have the learning and support available to do so."
To kick-start the programme the Department has made £1 million available from central funding to support regional learning programmes across England. GP practices keen to participate in the pathfinder programme will need to put themselves forward to their Primary Care Trust and Strategic Health Authority from the end of October.
Part of the support that will be offered to GP Consortia will be a new series of commissioning packs. These will provide a set of tools and templates to use when designing and buying services for their patients. The first of these support packs published today is for cardiac rehabilitation services and aims to support GP commissioners to design services that are suited to local needs and cost effective.
Notes to Editors:
1. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221
2. PCTs and SHAs will identify the first group of Pathfinder Consortia by December 2010. Other emerging consortia will then be able to join the programme on a rolling basis.
3. All Pathfinder Consortia will agree how they can be supported in taking on these new roles with their PCT.
4. We will evaluate the progress of the Pathfinder Consortia through the Department of Health's Policy Research Programme.
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