Elect patients to GP commissioning boards, says NHS Alliance

Health minister Earl Howe has endorsed a report recommending elected boards form part of GP commissioning groups.

Mr Howe: importance of the patient in the design of services
Mr Howe: importance of the patient in the design of services

The NHS Alliance report Whose NHS is it anyway also recommends that practices’ responsiveness to patient groups is measured in the QOF and monitored by the Care Quality Commission.

As GP groups prepare to take over commissioning, the report recommends elected boards work with clinicians ‘along the lines of parent governors in schools’.

Mr Howe, speaking at the launch of the report in the House of Lords on Wednesday, said he agreed with much of it.

Brian Fisher, patient and public involvement lead at the NHS Alliance, said that there was a ‘serious gap’ between GPs and patient groups such as local involvement networks (LINKs) as the profession prepares to take over commissioning.

‘We’d like GPs to have an obligation, or for it to be as easy as possible, to work with LINKs. We think that QOF could be manipulated to include patient care as defined by their patients.

‘GPs and commissioning groups have a lot to learn around listening to patients.

‘We would like to explore the democratic election of commissioning boards.’

The report calls for QOF points to be assigned to ‘responsiveness on areas other than merely access’, and more detailed measures of patient experience.

It also says the CQC should ‘demand evidence’ that local commissioners and providers have taken on board patients views.

Mr Howe said: ‘It’s quite clear that the patient voice has to be bound in to the design of services and into the alert systems [where care is poor].'

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