Health Minister Andy Burnham today (Thursday 26 April 2007) published new guidance to help health bodies and practitioners deliver high-quality, convenient care closer to people's homes.
Under government plans, GPs and pharmacists with special interests will need to go through a new rigorous and fair form of accreditation to ensure they have the necessary skills to deliver efficient and effective patient care in the community that was traditionally only available in hospitals.
By shifting services in this way, patients will wait less time and have shorter journeys for treatment, as well as having a greater choice and convenience about when and where they are treated.
Today's guidance, Implementing care closer to home – convenient quality care for patients, provides practical support to NHS commissioners for the provision of more specialised services delivered by practitioners with special interests (PwSIs). It includes:
Launching the guidance at a workshop in London, health minister Andy Burnham said: "As part of the recent white paper listening exercise, patients told us that they wanted health services to be delivered closer to home. Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, it is now possible to provide increasing amounts of specialist services in more local and convenient settings.
"PwSIs, as well as other health professionals, all have a key role to play in delivering these services - taking the pressure off acute hospitals and providing high-quality care to patients."
David Colin-Thome, the National Director for Primary care added: "By introducing this new accreditation process, our aim is to ensure GPs and pharmacists with special interests and the services in which they work are safe, of a high quality and improve the patient experience and health outcomes in the communities in which they are located."
Professor Mayur Lakhani, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and a practising GP, said: "We support and welcome this initiative – the RCGP has long called for a system of standard setting and accreditation, and this will help patient care, and support PCTs and practitioners."