Feature Health White Paper

Commissioners doing it for themselves

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c4488 (Published 07 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4488
  1. Jane Cassidy, freelance journalist
  1. 1Hertfordshire
  1. janecassi2{at}googlemail.com

    All general practitioners in England will soon be expected to commission the majority of health care services for their patients. Jane Cassidy talks to two groups already fulfilling this role

    When a group of Northamptonshire general practitioners started commissioning patient services, little did they know that three years later they would find themselves in the media spotlight.

    The publication of the government’s health white paper in July kick started a stream of requests from journalists to the Nene Commissioning office in Northampton.1 An interview with Nene’s chairman, Darin Seiger, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme sparked 12 000 hits to the organisation’s website in one day.2

    Now media interest is being replaced by calls from doctors keen to shadow the GPs’ work. They want to find out more about a role all family practitioners are expected to take on by 2013.

    Making it work

    The Nene group is the largest of its kind, representing 76 practices, more than 350 GPs, and a patient population over 650 000—94% of the county. A not for profit social enterprise set up in 2007, it is run by a board of nine elected GPs supported by a small management team.

    Ideas for new and improved services, along with concerns, are aired at monthly meetings in four locations countywide. Progress reports are fed back regularly. The group’s website is bulging with examples of how its innovative ideas are winning awards and transforming patient care. It is easy to see the benefits for patients, but what’s in it for clinicians?

    How about greater job satisfaction, less frustration, and lower stress levels? The move away from primary care trust (PCT) control has resulted in all of these, say three of Nene’s GP directors.

    Nene deputy chair, Raffaella Poggi, explains her involvement evolved from dissatisfaction about a PCT merger four years …

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