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Starting off with a bang

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read looks at where pathfinder GP consortia will go next, in his latest note from the dark side.

So they're out and running. We now have 25% of the population covered by pathfinders, a not inconsiderable coverage. So much for the lack of interest!

Indeed, here in the East - like all the other SHA areas - we had many expressions of interest. We now must build upon this enthusiasm and allow developing consortia to evolve and test out different ways of working through the pathfinder process

So what are the next steps? We will now sit down with the pathfinders in our area and ask them how we can best support them over the coming months; it must be from the bottom up not us telling them what we feel they need to know. We also plan to work with all the developing consortia that applied not those who achieved pathfinder status, so that we can look at the needs of all groups.

What are these likely to be? Difficult for me to predict, but as part of the application process we asked groups to let us know what they felt their needs were. These vary from help in thinking through support services to governance models, managing clinical and financial risk, leadership and followership development, help with public engagement and involvement and work with local authorities. Another message was working in partnership with PCTs and boards to ensure smooth progress.

There was a clear desire to work not just with individuals but also with teams across organisations so that teams can start to develop, test and learn.

Pathfinders will be part of a National Learning Network and this will be run through a DH website listening all the pathfinders their areas of work, and will develop forums and blogs and from this will come workshops and webinars on areas of development. This will provide a rich source of knowledge for all developing consortia and enable knowledge to spread quickly.

This is no longer an idea; it has become a significant movement for change.

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read is a GP and chief executive of NHS Cambridgeshire

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