Now is the time to move forward and get on with the job of modernising the NHS to improve services for patients, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said.
In a speech to the NHS Confederation's annual conference in Manchester, the health secretary underlined that message by announcing another group of GPs and frontline clinicians coming forward to lead the way in modernising the NHS.
In total, 257 groups of GP practices across the country covering around 97% of the population have come forward so they can directly commission services focused on delivering the best results for their patients. This means that nearly 50 million people around the country will now begin to receive services designed by the clinicians who know them best.
Mr Lansley said: "The listening exercise gave us an opportunity to respond positively to the concerns that people had about how we can implement the modernisation principles in the NHS. So now it is time to move forward with momentum, to put the NHS on the road to success.
"GPs know their local population best and they should have the power to improve care for patients. The fact that 257 pathfinder groups now do this for around 97% of the country is not only great news for patients but for the entire NHS, as frontline clinicians step forward to modernise services."
The selected groups represent GPs and other health and care professionals who have demonstrated readiness to start taking on commissioning responsibilities following the government's 'pause'. The groups will work together with patients, other NHS colleagues and local authorities to help manage local budgets and design services for their patients.
At the same time, the government has announced a number of transparency measures to improve the quality of information patients can access regarding health providers' performance. This will empower patients and enable them to make more informed decisions about their healthcare.
Where emerging clinical commissioning groups have been formed, patients are already benefiting from local commissioning and healthcare services tailored to their needs.
Pathfinders will become part of a national Pathfinder Learning Network and will be supported by the National Clinical Commissioning Network, the National Leadership Council and national primary care bodies.
Do you agree with Mr Lansley? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"The issue is not whether the NHS needs modernising it is that patient expectations need to come forward into reality of more demand and fewer resources. Imposing ill thought out change following a phoney consultation will not mend the NHS. Not just a Luddite attitude based on experience of attending consultations and seeing the feedback though possibly it related to a different consultation from the one I attended because it bore no resemblance to anything I or others who attended recalled" – Name and address withheld
"I do. The NHS needs modernising, the time for listening is now complete. Now is the time for putting the resources and measures in place to facilitate the changes. We need to get on with implementing those changes without further delay" – V Henry, London