Published: April 3, 2013
NHS reforms see Somerset’s GPs take control of local health budgets

Family doctors and clinicians in Burnham-On-Sea have this week taken on responsibility for the planning and funding of local health services.

The change is part of a series of far-reaching NHS reforms taking place across the country from April 1st since the passing of the government’s Health and Social Care Act in 2012.

Primary Care Trusts have been abolished and new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been established.

Somerset's new Clinical Commissioning Group takes on the statutory responsibility for the commissioning health services to some 535,000 Somerset residents and will control an annual budget of over £650 million pounds.

Commissioning involves planning and buying health services by assessing the needs of the population; engaging with local patients and clinicians; deciding what to prioritise; purchasing care; quality monitoring of the services provided by organisations; and measuring the impact of services on the health of the population.

CCGs do this in partnership with many community organisations, as well as patient and carer representatives and the public.

Dr David Rooke, Chairman of the new Somerset CCG and a local GP said: "Clinical commissioning offers tremendous opportunities for GPs and frontline professionals to have a strong leadership role, whilst at the same time working in closer partnership with patients and carers. We will empower clinicians to represent their patients and put the patients’ health care experiences and journeys at the centre of our commissioning decisions."

"We are listening to patients’ views, stories and experiences in order to incorporate these into the design of local health services. With NHS budgets increasing a lower rate than the past we have to meet the twin challenges of supporting the needs of an aging patient population and public expectations, we must find ways of delivering more with the same and not more of the same."

"We recognise that patients and carers need more information if they are to influence and support the modernisation of local health services. Such information should have its focus upon the quality and the outcomes that services deliver."

The government has described CCGs as the cornerstone of its Health and Social Care Act. Former Primary Care Trust and Strategic Health authorities are being abolished and CCGs are being established with the aim of giving frontline professionals a strong leadership role in commissioning.

Pictured: Dr David Rooke, Chairman of the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, foreground, with some of the members that make up the new Clinical Commissioning Group for Somerset

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