In July 2010 the coalition government published its proposed health reforms in a White Paper called Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. More detail was provided in the Health and Social Care Bill published in January 2011. YOu can find our more on the Department of Health's website.
The overall aims of the health reforms are to make the NHS more accountable to patients, release frontline staff from excessive bureaucracy and ‘top down control’ and focus on clinical outcomes rather than targets. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) led by GPs and other clinicians will take on responsibility for commissioning care. Nationally, CCGs are expected to take on budgets worth around £80billion
A new national NHS Commissioning Board will be responsible for setting commissioning priorities. Regional commissioning boards will take on responsibility for the performance of primary care practitioners - GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.
Targets, such as those for maternity, stroke and waiting times, will be replaced by outcome measures with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) producing a series of guidelines. Public health will become the responsibility of local authorities.
The proposals are far-reaching both at a national and local level. Strategic health authorities, including South Central which oversees the NHS in Berkshire, are due to be abolished by 2012. Primary care trusts (PCTs), including NHS Berkshire are due to be abolished by 2013.
The commissioning of healthcare will transfer from PCTs to CCGs. NHS Berkshire is working with local GPs to ensure a smooth transition to the seven emerging local CCGs (see further details in the menus to the left). The PCT already has a strong tradition of working with local GPs through localities shaping and improving local health services, bringing more services closer to home.