A borough of south-east London is one of the first areas in England where GPs have taken full responsibility for commissioning services for patients under the Government's radical NHS reform proposals.
The London Borough of Bexley has a population of 229,652 covered by 29 practices, and is one of eight new GP "consortia" across the capital which will work together to manage their own budgets and commission services directly with local authorities and other NHS colleagues.
The focus of the pilot scheme in Bexley has been on the care of the elderly and patients with long-term conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, and supporters argue that these new healthcare "pathfinders" will provide "high quality care" tailored to the specific needs of patients.
The NHS London website said Bexley's primary care chest pain clinic now offers access to care "closer to home", while experts are also helping people with Type 2 diabetes monitor their condition.
Dozens of patients with suspected heart conditions have also received specialist CT scans at a Harley Street clinic, and supporters claim the move saves the NHS money by avoiding lengthy exercise testing, invasive angiography and nuclear heart scans, and prevents the need for other invasive treatments.
However, some experts are concerned that schemes which utilise the private sector and specialist hospitals could have an adverse affect on smaller district hospitals.
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