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Pathfinder expansion to cover three quarters of GP practices

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: The Government is due to announce a further wave of GP pathfinders which its special adviser on commissioning has claimed will mean it is ‘almost job done’ for health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plan to engage GPs across England.

The fourth phase of the pathfinder programme is due to be launched within days, Pulse can reveal, and is expected to take coverage to well over three quarters of the country.

It comes almost two years to the day from when GP consortia are due to take over full responsibility for commissioning from GPs, with a takeover in shadow form now just 12 months away.

Dr James Kingsland, a special adviser on commissioning for the Department of Health, said: ‘This fourth wave is going to mean we’ve got the vast majority of GPs in England in some kind of arrangement. The pathfinder scheme has done what it set out to do. This is going to mean it’s almost job done.’

The latest phase in the rollout comes just a month after the third wave in which 40 GP pathfinder groups were added to the list, taking the coverage to two thirds of the country.

The Department of Health has consistently used the coverage of pathfinder consortia and the number of GPs involved to claim backing for its plans, although a spokesperson refused to give a specific date for the latest phase in the rollout.

Dr James Kingsland: ‘almost job done’ for pathfinder rollout Dr James Kingsland: ‘almost job done’ for pathfinder rollout