The National Association for Primary Care (NAPC) and United Health UK the private sector provider HQ’d in the US have teamed up to produce what so far is the best guide there is to GP commissioning.
Reputed to be Mr Lansley’s favourite group of GPs, the NAPC – mainly the former fundholding practices – are impatient to get into the driving seat. Look out for many of them being “pathfinder consortia” when these are announced next month.
MAC likes the NAPC/United Health commissioning guide particularly for its no nonsense talk about the value of patient and public engagement and working in partnership with local authorities. We’ve highlighted excerpts from it below.
They could hardly make it clearer:
GP Commissioning Consortia will need to work with colleagues in the wider NHS and social care to deliver a better patient experience, higher quality care and more efficient use of NHS resources. Your consortium will be required to work in partnership with Local Authorities and you will need to engage with your patients and local communities.
This is what engagement is for – inclusive commissioning:
Through effective engagement of stakeholders, you can achieve real change and improvement across the health care system, whilst working together in a consortium or forming relationships across a wider geographical location. Building these relationships will be fundamental to the success of your consortium
Working together must begin at practice level – primary care team members, community health and secondary care colleagues and of course patients and the wider local community and its many groups and networks:
Practices may already have patient groups with whom to test ideas and gain insight into how services can be improved. You could consider drawing on these sources of knowledge, together with intelligence from local community and voluntary groups, to gain a more accurate view of patient experience, which in turn will lead to better commissioning decisions
Formal involvement in decision making can’t be ducked:
Formal patient involvement in decision-making will be essential. Whilst the relationship with HealthWatch will be key (see later in the chapter), each consortium will also need to have structures in place for on-going dialogue with patients to ensure effective needs assessment, that services are designed around patients and that they actually deliver what is intended.
Local HealthWatch and beyond:
Comprehensive local engagement is critical to ensuring that services are designed and developed around patient need. In ‘Liberating the NHS’ the government is planning for people to have a greater say in decisions affecting their health and social care and in influencing service design. Working in partnership, to deliver real health improvements, by strengthening patient and public involvement, through improved choice, control and better information, is central to many of the proposals contained within the various consultation documents.
Engagement is a duty not an option:
You will have a duty to bring about public and patient involvement and will need to establish relationships with your Local HealthWatch organisations to ensure they are engaged in all stages of commissioning.
Local HealthWatch will in turn provide you with evidence about local communities and their needs and aspirations, in order to design and develop services.
You will not be able to do this alone and it is essential to start developing or strengthening your relationships with your local LINks as soon as possible.
Don’t wait to be told; do it now!
Understand the current arrangements for involving patients in commissioning and service redesign – at practice, PBC Group and PCT levels.
Find out what local organisations exist in your area (LINks, Patient & Carer Groups, Local Authorities, Representative Groups) and how they are responding to the consultation and proposed changes.
Engage with your local LINks group during the consultation process and provide support during the transition process.
Where possible, use existing patient groups within your practice to feed into LINks. Continue to engage the public through HealthWatch. Engage with your Local Authority to develop an ‘ideal’ Health and Wellbeing Board.
If this is what the new commissioners are being told to do about patient and public involvement we fully agree.
Bring it on now!
The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership supports user and public participation, trains lay representatives and develops responsive health, care and education organisations.