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GP Pathfinder Consortia

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2011

11. What recent assessment he has made of progress by GP pathfinder consortia in delivering improvements in NHS services. (52559)

I am delighted that nearly 90% of the country is now covered by pathfinder consortia, including my hon. Friend’s constituency, where the eastern Devon consortia chairs board pathfinder is up and running. I know that one area on which these emerging consortia are focusing is providing better, more flexible services for patients in community settings. We are supporting all the pathfinders through the pathfinder learning network, which is already showing a wide range of examples of where clinician-led commissioning is delivering benefits for patients.

I welcome the Secretary of State saying that the consortium in my constituency is up and running. Will he also take this opportunity to ensure that through these consortia patients can get better access to their doctors? Labour paid doctors a great deal more money, but patients actually got less access to their doctors.

That, indeed, will be one of the areas on which the quality and outcomes framework for individual GP practices will focus. In addition, however, through the commissioning outcomes framework for the NHS as a whole, one area in which we want to see continuing improvement in quality is patient experience and outcomes as reported by patients. GPs and their clinical colleagues will therefore be incentivised continuously to improve quality.

The Secretary of State knows that many of us have received e-mails from constituents, the majority of which have been cut and pasted from a left-wing website. The impression given of the role of the GP consortia bears little relationship to that of GP leaders in my constituency such as Elizabeth Johnston. Will he confirm that he will listen very carefully to the experience and expertise of my local GP leaders, and not a left-wing motivated campaign?

My hon. Friend will know, like I do, that his GPs in Reading have already commissioned a new care pathway for people with lower back pain, which means that instead of having to go to hospital appointments, patients can be seen in their own homes by physiotherapists or occupational therapists offering practical advice and assistance in managing pain. Those are practical steps led by front-line staff, the purpose of which is to improve care for patients.