Commissioners set for NHS ‘demolition’

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 CCG leaders must become “demolition experts”, dismantling old services and commissioning new ones, the Chairman of the NHS Alliance has said.

At the pro-reform primary care organisation’s annual conference, Michael Dixon said the new NHS commissioners would achieve a definitive shift in healthcare towards community-based services.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also told the NHS Alliance that CCG leaders would achieve the “Holy Grail” of NHS care: the local integration of services.

In his keynote speech, Dixon said the new commissioners’ first task was “to enable redesign that has so persistently failed to materialise under the old order”, building new treatment and care structures in the community.

However, he noted, in the face of economic restrictions, service redesign alone would not be adequate; commissioners would need to “think ever bigger, wider, and more ambitious” in building partnerships with new providers.

The NHS Commissioning Board would need to act as the “grand protector” of CCGs against the “managerial hierarchy” of the old NHS, he argued.

Similarly, Hunt congratulated the new CCG leaders on having “won the argument for having an NHS which is driven by local decision-making and clinical leadership”.

As a result of that victory – which was, in fact, opposed by most clinicians – doctors would “see at a local level the integration of services that has been the Holy Grail for so many people”.

Hunt also praised the previous Government’s aim of creating a “single digital record” for all NHS patients, and said that such a system remained necessary – a notable shift in DH policy.

He promised that online appointments and repeat prescriptions would become standard, but said the viability of e-mail consultations was uncertain.

Finally, admitting that his role may have “a short shelf life”, Hunt reiterated his major goals for the NHS: improving dementia care, reducing mortality from major diseases, implementing new technology, and improving care as well as treatment.