GPs to lead way in NHS scheme

Two groups of family doctors from the region will be among the first in the country to pilot controversial Government plans for sweeping reforms of the NHS.

The GPs in Doncaster and North East Lincolnshire will be among 52 consortia of doctors nationwide which will manage local NHS budgets and buy services for patients from NHS trusts, local authorities, the private sector and GPs themselves.

The pathfinder consortia, covering nearly 2,000 GP practices and serving nearly 13 million patients in England, will test the new arrangements before formal procedures are put in place which will see all GPs commission care to replace primary care trusts by April 2013.

Critics claim the landmark reforms could trigger chaos, coming at the same time as the NHS grapples with reduced budgets and rising demand for care.

GP Greg Connor, acting chairman of Doncaster GP Commissioning Transition Forum, said: "Becoming one of the first national pathfinder areas is a real boost for Doncaster.

"It builds on the good work which already goes on between the NHS and the local council to tackle the many related health and social problems in our area.

"We are determined to make this the best possible for our patients and ensure it meets the needs of all the people of Doncaster in the future."

Health chiefs in North East Lincolnshire said it was an opportunity to drive forward further improvements in care for local patients based on existing close relationships.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said GPs would take decisions "that better meet the needs of their local communities and improve outcomes for their patients".