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UK healthcare public consultations launched

The UK's Department of Health has launched two public consultations requesting views on the government's plans for NHS reform

The UK's Department of Health (DH) has launched two public consultations requesting views from the public and health professionals on the recently announced plans for NHS reform.

Both papers provide further details on the government's proposed arrangements, outlined previously in the White Paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS, as well as ask for opinions on how these plans will affect healthcare in the UK.

Commissioning for Patients looks at proposals for putting local consortia of GP practices in charge of commissioning services to best meet the needs of local people, supported by an independent NHS Commissioning Board.

The second document, Local Democratic Legitimacy in Health, discusses the role of local authorities, including strengthening the part they play in supporting patient choice, as well as their ability to take on local public health improvements and promote effective NHS, social care and public health commissioning arrangements.

Areas where consultation is requested include how GP consortia and the NHS Commissioning Board can best involve patients in improving the quality of health services. The discussion of the potential effects of proposed patient group HealthWatch, described as a "'citizen's advice bureau' for health and social care" by the DH, is also encouraged.

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said of the consultation launch: "Power has to be devolved to local people so that decisions about their health are made by them, or by people that best understand their needs.

"Whitehall can't prescribe all of this, and the health service shouldn't wait for a rule book from Government. Everyone should have their say in these consultations so we can get on with building strong local partnerships and improve people's health."

The consultation runs from July 22 to October 11, 2010. The DH website has details on how to submit views, as well as downloadable versions of the documents.

As part of further efforts to gain responses from healthcare professionals as well as the general public, Andrew Lansley took part in a webchat on July 22, 2010, the day the consultations were launched.

Questions included "what will the White Paper mean for pharmacists?" to which Lansley replied: "Pharmacies are an under-used asset in delivering better health. GPs have too often seen themselves and pharmacists in competition for resources.

"With GP-led commissioning I believe we will see a greater recognition by local consortia that pharmacy is an integral part and an effective part of how they can deliver services better, for example minor ailments and medicines' use reviews."

The website for Number 10 has the full webchat with the Health Secretary.

22nd July 2010

From: Healthcare

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