UK Government

Department of Health: New support for GPs will cut the costs of commissioning

Press Release   •   Oct 21, 2010 13:10 BST

New commissioning support packs will reduce admin burdens on consortia

A new series of resources to support GP Consortia to design and commission services for patients was announced today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at the National Association for Primary Care Annual Conference. 

The commissioning packs will provide GPs with 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.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a crucial element in the care of people who have heart disease and helps them to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

The pack includes:

* A service specification that sets out how to design services to improve patient outcomes 
* A costing tool that commissioners can use to determine how much money could be saved by implementing the service
* Procurement advice and templates designed to slash the amount of time spent on administration and reduce the need for GP commissioners to rely on external management support

The cardiac pack is ready to be used by commissioners, whether they are existing PCTs or shadow GP Commissioning Consortia. The commissioning packs are not mandatory so can be adapted to suit local needs and will free up Consortia to focus on outcomes and services for patients. 

The Secretary of State for Health also announced that further packs would be developed and launched next year for dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) services. It is expected that the packs will evolve over time as GP commissioners have more control in designing services and clarity on their support needs.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"We want to devolve power to clinicians and patients - GP commissioning is central to achieving this. But we want to make sure that GPs are supported too, and that they do not have to wade through layers of bureaucracy when designing services. This is the first of a series of packs that aim to reduce the time GP Consortia will spend on procurement and to easily demonstrate how they can design services that will give patients the best outcomes and use money effectively.

"The pack has been designed with GPs and we expect it to evolve as GPs take on greater responsibility for commissioning. In future, the National Commissioning Board will provide this type of support to Consortia."

Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation and practising GP commented on the packs:

"This year's National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation shows a 4% increase in the number of heart patients in England receiving cardiac rehabilitation from 38% to 42%. That's almost 5,000 more patients receiving this vital service compared to last year. But there is still a long road ahead of us.

"There are an estimated 2.6 million people living with heart disease in the UK and recovery from a heart attack isn't over when a patient leaves hospital. This commissioning pack is a welcome step forward in our goal of ensuring every heart patient who would benefit from cardiac rehabilitation is given the chance to receive it. We urge all commissioners of care in England to use this pack and ensure referral to cardiac rehabilitation is a routine part of treating heart patients, giving them the chance to live longer and better quality lives."

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, practising GP and Chief Executive of NHS Cambridgeshire said:

"Cardiac Rehabilitation is a crucial element in the care of people who have heart disease. It is a very cost-effective, evidence-based treatment that saves lives, as well as improving the quality of life for many cardiac patients.

"The new commissioning pack will be central to the development of a high quality, comprehensive and patient-centred service model and will no doubt prove an important tool for the new GP-led Commissioning Consortia. We look forward to the publication of more toolkits like this one.

"In Cambridgeshire, we recognise the absolute necessity of this intervention and are working with our local Stroke & Heart Network and NHS Improvement to improve uptake and access to cardiac rehabilitation across the county."

Roger Boyle, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease and Stroke, said:

"We know that cardiac rehabilitation is a cost effective way to help people with heart disease to live longer, healthier lives and people value it, particularly because of the way it can improve quality of life.

"Despite this, we also know that many people are missing out on the benefits that a high quality cardiac rehabilitation service offers. Those who do access a service often find it isn't flexible or responsive to their needs. The commissioning pack provides a clear picture of what a good service should be and will help commissioners cut the costs associated with providing this to their patients."

The British Heart Foundation and NHS Improvement have also launched a patient information pack to make patients aware of what they should expect from a good cardiac rehabilitation service.

Notes to editors:

1. The Cardiac Rehabilitation commissioning pack can be found at:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/Browsable/DH_117500

2. The BHF leaflet for patients can be downloaded at:http://www.bhf.org.uk/news_and_campaigning/our_campaigns/cardiac_rehab.aspx

3. Cardiac rehab programmes aim to help patients who have coronary heart disease, have had a heart attack, have heart failure, or who are recovering from heart surgery.

They are available throughout the UK and include sessions based on your needs. These sessions usually consist of a mix of physical exercise, relaxation, support and advice as well as education on a range of topics to encourage you and your family to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Cardiac rehab programmes also include help to set goals to help your heart health in the future. We know that cardiac rehabilitation improves outcomes for many people with heart disease, so that they can be active for longer and manage their condition more effectively.

4. The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, out that a key role of the new NHS Commissioning Board will be to produce non-mandatory 'commissioning guidance' to support GP consortia in commissioning effectively. The White Paper was published on 12 July 2010 and set out the Government's strategy for the NHS.
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_117353

5. For more information please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

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