DoH plans for patients to monitor PBC outcomes

Patient surveys will measure how successfully GPs improve outcomes in patient care under practice-based commissioning (PBC), according to health minister Lord Warner.

Speaking to GP, he announced plans to step up performance management of PBC.

Initially, SHAs will monitor whether PCTs have enabled PBC by setting budgets. By the end of 2007 the NHS will begin to measure outcomes, in part through surveys.

Commissioners will be expected to cut outpatient and inpatient appointments and the number of patients with long-term conditions admitted to hospital.

'You will start to see that in some of the conditions in which there are very big patient loads. Diabetes is one, respiratory conditions another,' he said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'Surveys of patient opinion have no place in the management of commissioning of care for long-term conditions.'

Lord Warner confirmed that a commissioning framework due to be published next month will clarify rules on bidding for alternative provider medical services contracts.

He said the DoH would guarantee a level playing field for GPs bidding against private or voluntary providers by ensuring 'absolute clarity' about services to be provided, and ensuring PCTs allowed enough time for practices to put bids in place.

However, asked whether the DoH would fund locum cover or provide technical support to practices making bids, he said: 'I'm a bit chary of the DoH trying to provide a support system for GPs.

'People who argue that there is not a level playing field either don't like competition or think the dice are loaded against them.'

Dr Buckman said that Lord Warner's description of a level playing field for contract bids was flawed: 'GPs need locum support to take time out to develop a bid.'

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