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NHS Reforms – the road ahead

The NHS reform agenda represents a steep learning curve for all concerned as they struggle to come to terms with the changes required to adopt and implement planned changes successfully

The NHS reforms White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS has given health service stakeholders, healthcare professionals – in particular GPs – and pharma companies much to think about and a lot to grapple with.

Across the board there is consensus that the sweeping changes offer as many opportunities as they do challenges. To discuss and debate these and to help all those working in healthcare get a better grasp of the implications of the reforms and the critical success factors, PMGroup with the help of BrightTALK hosted a webinar with key figures in healthcare to share their concerns for the future and dissect the opportunities on offer.

Joining the panel on August 9, was Nick Goodwin, senior fellow at the Kings Fund (and chair of the webinar); Tim Jones, commissioning specialist and adviser to a number of Primary Care Trusts and Practice Based Commissioning groups; Mike Sobanja, chief executive of NHS Alliance; Mark Wilkinson, director of life sciences innovation for the NHS and Ray Rowden, a health policy analyst and former special adviser to the House of Commons Health Committee.

During the session, which attracted 217 attendees, Tim Jones said that his principle concern was that the White Paper doesn't recognise the power of information and the necessity of linking primary and secondary care records. He cautioned that some GPs who might not deem the reform agenda particularly attractive would have no choice in implementing them.

In response, Mike Sobanja asserted that it wouldn't be the case that all 30,000 UK GPs would need to be responsible for commissioning, but just the consortia, which would be formed of perhaps 1,000 engaged GPs. His main concern was managing the balance of power between the National Commissioning Board and GP consortia.

Mark Wilkinson's introductory statement made reference to the fact that this White Paper is the latest in a long line of attempts to give GPs budgetary as well as clinical responsibility. He stressed that, to gain buy-in from GPs, it was important to consider the system levers, such as financial incentives, as well as the organisational structures that must be put in place. Ray Rowden questioned how it would be possible to have local autonomy without local variation.

The lively discussion that followed included questions from the audience and a series of survey questions on which the attendees could vote.

Questions posed to the panel included:

  • Will GP consortia be able to decide whether or not to follow NICE guidance?
  • A much-mentioned figure is the £20bn in efficiency savings the Government wants to create. Where did this figure come from and how will the savings be achieved?
  • Who will fund community pharmacies under the new structure?
  • How can capital be raised in a social enterprise? Will hospitals be permitted to go bankrupt under this scheme?

Among the survey questions was the issue of whether or not the pharma industry felt that the reforms presented more opportunities or more threats, with 81 per cent of respondents voting for more opportunities, opposed to 19 per cent who responded with 'more threats'. 
 
Watch the 90 minute webinar

9th August 2010

From: Healthcare

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