Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Creating the PBC ‘can do’ brand

Dr David Shovlin of West Northumberland PBC Group explains how PBC needs to develop a reputation for getting things done with partner organisations

Dr David Shovlin of West Northumberland PBC Group explains how PBC needs to develop a reputation for getting things done with partner organisations


Practice-based commissioning has been struggling to make a name for itself nationally. Although pockets of good practice and innovation abound, what it has lacked is the ability to achieve any sort of brand recognition.

In West Northumberland we have seized opportunities (and the small amount of funding attached) to use PBC as a vehicle to deliver change through partnerships.

When we first set up in 2006, PBC had no clear agenda. Was it about enabling GPs to supplement income by taking on additional services? Was it about driving down referrals to enable cash-strapped PCTs to balance the books?

We took a group view that what it was really about was working together, both between practices and together with other partner organisations and patients, to deliver continuous service improvement.

We have delivered, and are in the process of delivering, a number of large and medium-sized projects across West Northumberland. Some of these have required significant financial investment from the PCT, but many have required little or no additional funding.

For example, we have worked together with the local foundation trust to expand the open-access echocardiography service, meaning that fewer patients have to see a consultant in order to access investigations. We have developed new pathways for the investigation of dyspepsia and iron-deficiency anaemia, improving patient care and reducing demand on the endoscopy service. These pathways have now been adopted across the North of Tyne region.

We have also delivered an outreach neurology outpatient service, enabling patients who previously had to do a 60-mile round trip to be seen locally.

We have used existing good relationships and a strong history of teamworking to reinvigorate some of the structures that were in danger of falling by the wayside.

Several local clinical groups that had been doing very good work but had no funding and no commissioning status have now come under the aegis of PBC and have the ability to deliver real change. Education and audit has become a central locality focus again, reviving the days of clinical governance. This has been led by PBC, which sets the annual education and audit agenda, based around identified commissioning priorities.

We have brought in patients, carers and voluntary sector organisations to the PBC fold, giving it a profile that we could never have achieved had it been just a group of self-interested GPs.

All of this has enabled West Northumberland PBC Group to develop a ‘can do' reputation among partner organisations, which has made it easier to influence and to achieve further change.

As we head into an age of public-sector austerity, the ability of PBC to deliver must depend less on the injection of large sums of money and more on the development of partnership working and locally shared aims and objectives.

If we can achieve this on a wide scale, then PBC has the potential to help the NHS through the difficult years ahead.

Dr David Shovlin is chair of West Northumberland PBC Group and a GP in Hexham. West Northumberland PBC Group was shortlisted for the most advanced PBC group category in last month's PBC Vision Awards.

Dr David Shovlin

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say