Council and GPs welcome publication of health bill

By on 20/01/2011 in News

Birmingham City Council and city GPs have welcomed the publication of the Health Bill.

Working with Birmingham University, the local authority and lead GPs have already been taking steps to identify the best way they can work together to implement the bill.

With national debate focusing on the potential risks of major change, work by the city council and GPs has highlighted that the new way of running the NHS could:

• Create decisions about how health care are delivered designed by clinicians, not managers.
• Engage local democracy in a new way as part of creating a strategy for the city
• Build on the long term commitment that GPs bring to the city, which when harnessed with the city council, could create a real focus on some long term investments and improvements of health care, rather than a short term management focus.
• Find new ways of ensuring we integrate health and social care
• Through Health & Wellbeing Boards, give real strategic leadership to improving public health within the city.

Councillor Sue Anderson, cabinet member for adults & communities, said: “The city council sees real benefits in moving decision-making to GPs and finding a new relationship between GPs and councils.  This has an enormous and positive move in changing how the NHS operates, which I think will help us all face how we make a tough decision in relation to public finance, whilst keeping a real clarity about the standard of care.

“Managing the risks of change is about how people work together locally; we and our partners have begun to work together to discuss how they can build the new world envisaged by the health bill.” 

Councillor Len Clark, executive member for children's social care, said: “Integrating services applies equally to children as it does to adults.  Across care and health we need different approaches to families and to the way in which we meet the needs of children with lifelong disabilities or mental ill health. I think it is time for a new approach which focuses around how we work with children and families in their communities.

The city council has made a commitment from the outset from this government for health reform work with the consortium put together by GPs.  Birmingham currently has two consortiums.
Andrew Coward - GP and chair of the South Birmingham Integrated Commissioning Consortium said “we have an ambition to make this work for our patients and are absolutely determined to improve local health care.  The health bill is an enormous opportunity for GPs to get involved to shape the services so that GPs commission what works for the people they serve.”

Birmingham City Council's commitment also means learning to work with different sizes and shapes of GP consortia.  This week's announcement of the 2nd phase of consortia sees the approval of South Birmingham Independent Commissioners, one of the smallest consortia yet agreed, made up of 8 practices and 30,000 patients.  Its chair, Dr Peter Patel said “the health bill provides a real opportunity to address health and equality and improve health and this will need more proactive clinical involvement and transformation of leadership.  As small consortia, we will focus on being locally responsive but also have effective partnership arrangements to implement strategic change.”

The commitment already demonstrated in the city shows there is a willingness to take on board the challenges posed by the health bill and to build something different that has a real focus on the patients served by GPs and the commitment to building a great international city which is central to the city council.  Bringing these two forces together has real potential, not least because of a promising start.

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