The coalition Government has cited their pilots abolishing practice boundaries for commuters in certain cities as a major success in its mid-term progress report, despite the late start of the project and disappointing numbers of patients taking part.
The practice boundaries pilots was cited – alongside the formation of CCGs and increasing the health budget ‘in real terms’ – as one of the three ways the coalition Government had ‘improved the NHS’ since taking power in 2010.
The document also cites other successes that have ‘reduced preventable early death’, such as the Cancer Drugs Fund, increasing the number of doctors in the NHS and saving £2.7 billion by the end of 2012/13 by cutting administrative staff.
It also said it has brought the ‘technology revolution’ to the NHS by setting out an information strategy in the NHS Mandate, by making GPs and patient files available online by 2015, and through a five-year plan for three billion patients to access telehealth.
It said it will continue to prevent early death through the system of revalidation and improve standards of care through the ‘friends and family test’.
But the use of the practice boundaries pilots as a success is the biggest surprise in the document, with Pulse reporting last year that only 12 patients within the first three months of the project had switched their GP practice.
The report said: ‘The NHS we inherited was overly centralised, insufficiently responsive to patients and ill-equipped to handle both the demands of an ageing population and the rising costs of treatment.
‘That is why, as well as protecting the health budget, we have reformed the NHS, giving patients and communities more choice and a stronger voice. This combination of investment and reform is starting to deliver significant improvements in outcomes and productivity.’
The coalition Government’s key improvements to the NHS:
- Increasing the health budget in real terms in 2011/12 and for each subsequent year of this Parliament;
- Starting to devolve commissioning of most health services to GP-led clinical commissioning groups, with at least one practising nurse and a secondary care specialist on each of their governing bodies; and
- Allowing patients in six trial primary care trusts to register or receive a consultation with a GP practice of their choice.