Commissioning GPs to hit budget

One of England's first commissioning pilots is on track to come in on budget at the financial year-end, GP understands.

Dr Simon Brown: hitting budgets
Dr Simon Brown: hitting budgets

NHS Cambridgeshire officially launched Hunts Health commissioning cluster, covering 70,000 patients, in September with the aim of improving quality and efficiency.

Dr Simon Brown, lead GP at Hunts Health, said it is 'realistic' to say that the consortium will come in on budget. He also said prescribing spend and elective and non-elective referral activity of practices within the consortium had gone down.

'We took in a spread of practices. Some of those which previously overspent are now coming towards control and other practices that were already within budgets have already improved,' he said.

He cites clinical engagement and peer review as key drivers of the reduction in referrals and prescribing activity.

Dr Brown said: 'People have a sense of being in control. Being part of a cluster has allowed ownership and behaviours are starting to change.'

Meanwhile, Dr Brown said the group, which comprises 10 practices, has also implemented changes to the local acute trust's non-elective pathways.

All patients now receive estimated dates of discharge, and inpatient cases are actively managed. 'This has had the effect of reducing length of stay, which was a priority.'

Dr Brown admitted taking on commissioning on top of the day job meant a 'busy week'.

He added: 'It is crucial for me to work as a GP. There needs to be a balance, and I am not sure we have achieved this. But I am still managing six or seven clinical sessions a week.'

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