Pathfinder consortia: a step in the right direction

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The second in the Fund's series of seminars on health and the Big Society provoked an interesting debate and very frank discussion on the challenges of balancing the reality of the financial situation with the vision expressed in the health White Paper, and indeed in other government initiatives such as Big Society.

Stephen Dorrell MP, Chair of the Health Select Committee, was yet again clear that the key challenge for the NHS is achieving unprecedented efficiency gains over the next four years. But there was concern in the room that the current reorganisation was distracting to the very staff that will need to deliver those efficiency gains. Even acknowledging the presence of some notable journalists and commentators in the room, one primary care trust chief executive stated: 'we could be heading for a train crash'. He was concerned that not only were the practicalities of the reorganisation taking up time that should be focused on efficiency gains, but also that he and his staff were faced with such a huge challenge at a time when many are facing redundancy.

What was clear from the discussion is that careful implementation of the changes will be key. The GP Pathfinder consortia, announced today, are a helpful first step in testing the reforms properly. The fact that the pathfinder consortia present a wide range of different models, covering very different populations in both size and geography, is positive; properly evaluated, this programme will help to uncover the practical lessons before a national roll-out.

A clear view from the Fund, and indeed other commentators, is that the effort that has gone into writing the NHS White Paper and the supporting consultation documents now has to be matched with the unglamorous, but absolutely critical, task of planning delivery. The pathfinders are a helpful first step in that process if the NHS is indeed to avoid a 'train crash'.

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Philip Green

Clinical Hypnotherapist,
Comment date
17 January 2013
Reading the comment #285. I have a concept I wish to discuss regarding the issue of the holistic approach. Would it be possible for someone to contact me regarding this concept? Please use the attached email in the first instance and leave your phone number and time when it is convenient to call. Alternatively could you signpost me to whom I should discuss this concept for addressing this point and associated comobidities Many thanks in anticipation

Ian Mortimer

General Manager,
Comment date
18 January 2011

Excuse my ignorance in this field, is there a clear list of responsibilties for the Pathfinder Schemes ? How exactly are equipment orders placed within Primary Care ?
Many Thanks.

Ray Jobling

Psoriasis Assoc
Comment date
07 January 2011
I discovered that my own GP Practice was to be part of a Pathfinder Consortium from local press coverage. There had been, & still has been, no communication from the Practice to its patients and thus no "engagement" or consultation. Enquiries put to the relevant local NHS Comms team produced no information concerning governance. I did by chance however find a small notice on a waiting room wall asking patients to leave a name at the Receptioin Desk if they were perhaps interested in involvement in the new Consortium's Board...with a commitment of about three days a month etc.
So someone has been thinking about it all, but whatever the best intentions, no-one could say that patients have put at the heart of this latest development. Quite the contrary it is all being done not with us, but (to be generous) "for" us...or rather "to" us.

Dr.Nigel Bird

consultant homoeopath,
locarno homoeopathic centre
Comment date
23 December 2010
Good start.More CAM needed including homoeopathy on the NHS urgently.Very difficult to commission homoeopathy & CAM due to
GP ignorance & predudice.No choice in terms of CAM.Plenty of choice on NHS but only conventional medicine.Training in CAM needed for GP's & other health professionals.


Patient rep,
Social Enterprise Complementary Therapy Company SECTCo
Comment date
19 December 2010
Atephen Dorrell rightly said that the model of the NHS is 'over centralised'. It is also outmoded as a paradigm, being materialistc, reductionist, and mechanistic, Science has abandoned this model, but the NHS is stuck in it. Patients want the holistic model, recognising that they have a mind, which affects their body, as software affects hardware in a computer system. Complementary therapy is based on holism, which 3 out of 4 patients want free on the NHS. The Royal Colleges should recognise that there are 6 complementary treatments which are recommended by NICE, and allow them to be commissioned and piblicly funded. They are far more cost effective than drugs or surgery, so could deliver the Nicholson challenge. Furthermore, patients have a statutory right to them under the NHS constitution, so any PCT/GP consortia who does not commission them faces judicial review without a leg to stand on. They are spinal manipulation, hypnotherapy for IBS and MBCY course for depression, so are clically indicated for 3 out of 4 patients in primary care.

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