Pathfinder test for local GPs

More Norfolk patients will be among the first to get a radical shake-up of their health service.

The North Norfolk Health Consortium, a group of 18 GP practices including ones in Blofield, Brundall and Ludham, has been granted “pathfinder” status which will see it leading the way in working out how GPs will manage their local budgets and purchase services for patients.

The GP consortium for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, HealthEast Community Interest Company (CIC), was awarded Pathfinder GP Commissioning status during the first wave in December 2010.

The north Norfolk consortium was the only one in Norfolk and Suffolk to be chosen in the second wave of pathfinders, which brings the national total to 141.

Pathfinders will test the new commissioning arrangements, which will see healthcare budgets pass from primary care trusts like NHS Norfolk to GP consortia, ahead of the formal deadline of April 2013.

The news comes as fresh doubts over the sheer scale and challenge of the NHS reforms have been publicly raised by unions and MPs.

Consortium chairman Anoop Dhesi, a GP at the Staithe Surgery in Stalham, said they would be keen to work with health organisations, professionals and patients on developing more healthcare in communities, for example looking at how some secondary care that takes place in hospitals can be offered closer to where people live.

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He said: “One of the things I would like to stress is that the way we use secondary services is going to be different for north Norfolk compared to other places like Norwich were people live closer to the acute hospital.

“We will be looking to develop local services, more services in GP surgeries and in communities and where patients live.”

Dr Dhesi said: “What it gives us is a good starting position to work out what our responsibilities will be when we take on full budgets from April 2013.

“It will mean hopefully some extra resources, money and expertise.”

Blofield Surgery, Ludham Surgery and The Medical Centre, Brundall, are all members of the North Norfolk Health Consortium.