Primary care investment 'critical', health consultant warns

Investment in primary care is critical to meet future NHS demands and GP commissioners should not wait for DH advice to make it happen, a top management consultant has warned.

Andrew Hine: CCGs must press ahead with primary care investment
Andrew Hine: CCGs must press ahead with primary care investment

England’s 27 area teams - local outposts of NHS England - and 211 CCGs have the power and resources to invest in primary care, according to the head of public healthcare at consultancy firm KPMG.

Andrew Hine, whose firm is currently working with a quarter of CCGs, said the groups should be trying to convince area teams, which hold primary care budgets, to invest in primary care.

‘The question isn’t "should we do this?", the question is "how are we going to do it?",’ he said. ‘There are complex things that need to be worked through but development of primary care is critical to being able to manage future demand.

‘The NHS because has in effect been a nationalised industry, has always looked up for people to tell it what to do.

‘If people are waiting to be instructed how to do this, they are going to be waiting a long time, the important thing is the people who know how to do this are at the front line. They have the resources and the power. Rightly, investment and resourcing of primary care is held not by CCGs, but by area teams and NHS England, but it is about how you influence that.

‘Ultimately while the budget is held in different pots, it is all the health service’s money.

‘Your average patient doesn’t care what pot it sits in, they care about the fact that they have paid their taxes and how that money is used and best organised.’

Mr Hine, a former NHS foundation trust manager, said KPMG has found CCGs to be among some of the fastest learning organisations it has worked with.

He said: ‘In general terms CCGs are learning fast. CCGs on occasion have got a naive confidence but it is a good confidence to have.

‘They are relatively immature organisations. That means they are not limited by the beliefs about what is or isn't possible. They generally have much higher levels of aspiration. They are hungry to learn. They are hungry to test themselves. They don't always understand the risks and limitations inherent in their role and that is part of our role to help them understand that.

'They are hungry to make change happen.’

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