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Lansley shelves London polysystem plans

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has confirmed he will shelve plans to shift huge volumes of outpatient and A&E care to GPs in London.

Pulse first revealed in March that the Conservatives planned to ‘rip up' NHS London's controversial plans to move 55% of hospital work into GP-led polysystems and close a third of the capital's hospital beds, and would instead consult more with local clinicians on how to re-design services.

Mr Lansley has now confirmed that he is sticking to his word, and will launch consultations with GPs on a local level to decide ways to move care closer to home, to counter the looming £5bn deficit facing London's health service.

The plans have proved hugely controversial with GPs, who are angry at the lack of consultation over the proposals, and warned that the infrastructure is not currently in place to support such radical shift of services into primary care.

Mr Lansley said: ‘As I promised before the election, I am calling a halt to NHS London's reconfiguration of NHS services.

‘A top-down, one-size fits all approach will be replaced with the devolution of responsibility to clinicians and the public, with an improved focus on quality.

‘It will be centred on a sound evidence base, support from GP commissioners and strengthened arrangements for public and patient engagement, including local authorities.'

Ruth Carnall, chief Executive of NHS London, said Mr Lansley's decision left the authority with a £5bn black hole still needing to be filled.

'Lord Darzi's Healthcare for London review showed that the current approach to delivering care in the capital wouldn't meet the needs of Londoners,' she said.

'Today's announcement says we must find a new way of meeting these same challenges.

'The Secretary of State is clear that GPs must take the lead in deciding which services are provided locally. He is also clear that Londoners must have a bigger say on the shape of local services and be able to make informed choices on where they go to receive care. To support this, we will make available to the public as much information as possible on the quality of our services and provide substantial clinical evidence for any proposed changes. We will also build on the extensive clinical leadership we have developed across London in the past two years. There are many doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who are more than ready and willing to take on this new challenge.

'NHS London remains committed to improving the quality of care we provide for everyone who uses the NHS in the capital. Over the next few months we will be working with GPs and other clinicians to understand how best to support them as they deliver the urgently needed improvements to London's healthcare.'

Andrew Lansley Click here to read a detailed analysis of how the Tory-Lib Dem coalition will affect general practice . Health policy and the new government: an analysis