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Patients given power to veto practice changes, under new DES

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs will be required to gain the formal approval from patient groups before making any ‘significant changes' to the services they provide, under the terms of the new £60m patient participation DES.

Guidance from the BMA and NHS Employers outlines the extent to which GPs will have to ramp up their patient engagement in order to attain payments of £1.10 per registered patient, set aside for practices under the terms of the GP contract deal for 2011/12. Click here to read the full guidance.

The terms of the DES stipulate that practices must fulfil a range of criteria to qualify for payments, including establishing a patient representative group, agreeing issues to prioritise, carrying out local patient surveys each year, and agreeing action plans to tackle any issues raised in those surveys.

When making any major changes to the services they provide, such as altering opening hours, practices will be required to gain the formal approval from patient groups in order to qualify for payment under the DES.

If practice and patient groups cannot agree about any changes, then the plans have to be referred to the PCT for their sign-off.

Practices must also publish detailed reports on their website detailing a raft of information on their engagement policy, including profiles of patient group members, evidence of how findings from surveys have been used and acted upon and details of any action plans agreed with patients.

It will also mean that practices without a website that choose to take up the DES will have one set up by the end of the year in order to gain funding from the service.

DES component and weighting of payments (Years 1 and 2)

1. Establish a Patient Representative Group (PRG) comprising only of registered patients and use best endeavours to ensure PRG is representative (Y1-20% Y2-0%)

2. Agree with the PRG which issues are a priority and include these in a local practice survey (Y1-20% Y2-10%)

3. Collate patient views through local practice survey and inform PRG of the findings
(Y1-20% Y2-20%)

4. Provide PRG with opportunity to comment and discuss findings of local practice survey. Reach agreement with PRG of changes in provision and manner of delivery of services. Where the PRG does not agree significant changes, agree these with the PCT (Y1-20% Y2-30%)

5. Agree with the PRG an action plan setting out the priorities and proposals arising out of the local practice survey. Seek PRG agreement to implement changes and where necessary inform the PCT (Y1-20% Y2-30%)

6. Publicise the Local Patient Participation Report on the practice website and update the report on subsequent achievement (Y1-0% Y2-10%)

Click here to read the full guidance

Patients given power to veto GP service changes, under new DES Pulse CPD

Click here for advice from NHS Alliance lead Dr Brian Fisher on how GPs can successfully engage their patients