Shorter waiting times, consultants based in GP surgeries, and blood sample taking in the home are just some of the things doctors want to introduce when they take over the running of local health services next year.
From April 1 2013, the North Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will replace the North Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT) in setting and designing the Lancaster district’s health service with a £200m budget.
GPs will get back office help from a commissioning support unit, likely to be made up of managers and staff from the existing PCT, but it will be GPs that are ultimately calling the shots.
Dr David Wrigley, a GP at Ash Trees Surgery in Carnforth, sits on the CCG board and has taken on the role of public engagement, alongside four other GPs who also have specific roles.
Dr Wrigley, 43, qualified as a GP in 1997, and was a doctor at Owen Road Surgery before moving to Ash Trees Surgery where he has been for 10 years.
Born in Blackpool, he has two children and lives in Bolton-le-Sands.
Dr Wrigley said that when the changes come into effect on April 1, people shouldn’t notice any difference.
He said: “Practice based commissioning in north Lancashire has been going on for five or six years now.
“I think when people wake up that day, everything will be the same.
“Local health services won’t alter in any way shape or form.
“There will still be the same phone numbers and the same doctors and nurses, although some of the signage will change.
“There’s no plans for any shock announcements.
“Before this there were a lot of managers involved, but not much doctor and patient involvement.
“Now what we see is GPs being more at the forefront of designing services.
“It’s what we’ve been asking for for a long time.”
Dr Wrigley said that one of the CCG’s aims was to bring more services out of the hospital and into the community.
“People will notice much better physio appointments in the community for example,” he explained.
“The waiting time a couple of years ago was 40 weeks to see a physio, which was inadequate.
“We saw this and knew we had to change it, and we can now get patients seen within two weeks.
“We’re looking at blood sample taking being done in people’s homes, and consultants dropping in to GP practices so they can see patients there.
“If you have a knee problem you’ll probably go to the hospital, but now we’re hoping we can do it quicker by getting specialists out to see the patient, making things easier for them.
“There’s much better scope for working alongside and supporting carers of dementia sufferers as well.
“It’s not about something that’s cheaper, but about how we can be more effective.
“It’s about the alternatives.”