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Wide-ranging NHS plans must involve GPs now, says NHS England

It is time for regional NHS leaders to involve GPs in wide-ranging plans for overhauling patient service across the country, NHS England has said.

Papers filed ahead of today’s NHS England board meeting said leaders of the planning process now had to involve GPs ‘fully’ so they could ‘lead changes’ to patient services.

But this comes only after the majority of the 44 regional ‘sustainability and transformation plans’ (STPs) have already been drawn up and published, and after Pulse reported in August that GPs were being excluded from consultations.

The papers said: ‘They now also need to do more to engage clinicians – including frontline GPs – and all our staff in the next phase and to involve them fully in preparing to lead changes to the way we design our services to look after patients.’

Addressing the board meeting, NHS England national director for operations and information Matthew Swindells said this comes as NHS England ‘move[s] from the proposal phase that we’re in at the moment into turning these into plans to be implemented’.

He added that while every area has consulted on proposed changes to some extent, ‘we need to create a standardised feeling that this is part of a joint engagement in how we take the NHS forward over the next four years’.

Mr Swindells added that nothing in the plans ‘takes away the statutory obligation to consult over a major service change’, but the document submitted to the board said that ‘formal consultation’ with the public on the plans will be necessary only in ‘some cases’.

The board papers further revealed that the STPs had requested more money from NHS England for their plans than what is available.

They said: ‘Capital is very tight over the next few years; STPs’ requests exceed what is available.’

NHS England will now review these requests and focus on those that are ‘shovel ready’ and will make patient services more efficient, the papers added.