(2) what steps her Department is taking to ensure doctors' surgeries and general practices can undertake the shift in patient services from the secondary sector to primary care; and if she will make a statement.
How services are delivered locally is a matter for practice based commissioners in collaboration with primary care trusts and local people to decide; there is therefore no centrally driven strategy to deliver secondary care services in primary care in Bedfordshire.
However as we set out in ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: a new direction for community services’ it is our aim for more services to be provided in settings that are convenient for patients and there are a number of mechanisms in place to facilitate this including:
a £750 million capital investment fund to support the development of more community hospitals and facilities to deliver care closer to people’s homes;
the opportunity for primary care practitioners through practice based commissioning to decide what services should be commissioned locally and to provide more services themselves; and
new advice about commissioning services from accredited practitioners with special interests.
In addition in the summer we will be publishing a report about how services in six speciality areas can be delivered in settings that are more convenient for patients—this report will be based on existing practice in shifting care.
We are making £750 million capital funding available over the next five years to fund community hospitals and services. The intention is that this funding is used to fund the development of services that deliver more care in settings that are convenient for patients such as community hospitals, primary care centres and services that can be provide in people's homes.
There is also the local improvement finance trust initiative which increasingly is being used to build health centres that provide services that would formerly have been based in hospitals, saving patients long journeys to hospital. These centres also contain a variety of health and social services, so that general practitioners, social workers, a pharmacy and outpatient clinics are all under one roof—again, avoiding the need for journeys between each of these services. To date, primary care trusts (PCTs) have commissioned £1 billion worth of facilities under this initiative.
In addition we have recently announced a 30 per cent. increase in the operational capital allocations for PCTs. This funding can also be used to build new facilities that deliver more services closer to people's homes.