A briefing paper produced jointly by six national health care organisations, to examine the Government’s proposals to hand real budgets to GPs to commission services on their patients’ behalf.
In the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, the Government proposes to ‘strengthen the power of GPs to act as patients’ expert guides through the health system’, by enabling them to commission care on their patients’ behalf. The White Paper promises an ‘opportunity for GPs to work with community leaders and their local authorities to take the reins and steer their local services to improve quality standards and outcomes’.
This briefing paper has been produced jointly by the Nuffield Trust, NHS Alliance, National Association of Primary Care, Royal College of General Practitioners, The King’s Fund and the NHS Confederation, who have been working together over a number of months to explore what needs to happen if GPs are to be given real power and responsibility for leading commissioning in the NHS. It was developed following a seminar hosted by the Nuffield Trust, with participation from the above organisations, and was written by Dr Judith Smith, Director of Policy, Nuffield Trust, and Ruth Thorlby, Senior Fellow, Nuffield Trust, on behalf of the six organisations.
Handing real budgets to GP commissioning groups has the potential to help improve patient care but it will need time and careful design if it is to be successful
In the briefing paper, the six national organisations conclude that handing real budgets to GP commissioning groups has the potential to help improve patient care but it will need time and careful design if it is to be successful. The report outlines the opportunities the new policy direction presents. However, it warns that evidence from the UK and overseas suggests the policy will take time to develop and that there will be significant challenges in engaging more than an enthusiastic minority of GPs, reversing avoidable use of hospital care, and shifting resources into the community.
This paper will be of interest to healthcare policy-makers, senior managers and clinicians, and others involved in commissioning, as well as academics and students in the fields of healthcare and social policy.
Smith J and Thorlby R (2010) Giving GPs budgets for commissioning: what needs to be done? Briefing. Nuffield Trust.