Intended for healthcare professionals


A new direction for NHS community services

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 09 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:315
  1. Richard Q Lewis, senior fellow (
  1. King's Fund, London W1G 0AN

    The white paper tackles the right issues but may be hard to implement

    The government's new white paper on the future of primary, community, and social care heralds more emphasis on preventive care, a greater choice of services from general practitioners; reduced health inequalities, and better support for people who need long term care.1 The plan also promises more convenient access to general practices, together with an expanded range of other sources of primary care, such as walk-in centres. The NHS will seek new providers from the independent sector to tackle longstanding problems of poor access to health care in deprived areas, and perhaps elsewhere. In addition, many services—including up to half of all outpatient care for some specialties—will be shifted out of hospitals and into community settings.

    Patients will gain more power within the NHS. They will be offered greater choice over where and when they receive primary care, more information about their health and health services, more direct control over social care resources, and the ability to trigger fundamental service reviews of local health services. Furthermore, the white paper promises that patients' views of services will be assessed independently …

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