The debate took place at St Charles’ Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Ladbroke Grove, west London, today with GP members of the Kensington and Chelsea practice-based commissioning group, which represents 42 practices and is a second wave pathfinder.
Dr Mark Sweeney said the centre, which includes two practices as well as X-ray and diagnostics including ECG, echocardiography, ultrasound and phlebotomy, enabled patients to be seen both in the community and quicker.
‘We now have an early intervention back pain service and people are seen straight away, which means less time off work,’ added Dr Sweeney. Waits could previously have been up to 10 weeks.
There is also a GP-led urgent care centre on site, which is open 365 days a year between 8am and 9pm, and a 66-bed renal dialysis unit, which is one of Europe’s largest satellite centres for renal dialysis.
Mr Cameron was also keen to point out that shorter waits would also likely mean less need for medication.
There were good-humoured laughs around the table when it was also suggested that ‘services could be improved without the need for additional funds’.
The GPs also emphasised the importance of collaborative work with patients to plan services and work with consultants to take the pressure off hospitals.
Dr Puvana Rajakulendran asked for change at ‘a slower pace’ so the most could be made of the PCT’s value as GPs learned what commissioning would mean for them.
The visit was part of a listening exercise for Mr Cameron and Mr Lansley ahead of discussion of the Health Bill which starts in parliament today.