Norwich GPs outline priorities for health services

A consortium of 19 Norwich GP practices has been outlining its priorities as it prepares to start taking on responsibility for health services in the city.

The Norwich Health Commissioning Consortium is a group of GPs which will be shaping health services in the city for 170,000 patients and says Norwich's key priorities will be care for frail and elderly patients, those with mental health problems and how and where community health services are delivered.

Over the next two years the consortium will start to take over the purse strings for paying for health care from NHS Norfolk, which will be scrapped in 2013.

At a Norwich Older People's Forum meeting yesterday, Dr Chris Francis, co-chairman of the consortium and a partner at Bacon Road Medical Centre, pledged to involve patients in desiging care from the start, and said the group would be looking to offer more services closer to people's homes, rather than in hospitals.

He said: 'It's about an imaginative use of all the premises we have in the public sector, for example the city council, county council and mental health trust.'

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Dr Francis also reassured members of the forum that the consortium would not be looking to introduce a centralised appointment booking telephone system for all the 19 practices.

He said: 'That's happening in certain parts of the country using NHS Direct, and I'm sure there are efficiencies, but most people value being able to contact their own practices for continuity of care and we have no plans to make any changes to that.'

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Members of the forum raised concerns about the capacity for more healthcare to be offered in the community, as well as public transport to help people access this care.

Accountability, personal budgets, more private providers and competition within the NHS were also discussed.

Older person's campaigner Barbara Lockwood, from Mayfield Avenue, Hellesdon, said she was worried about what would happen if the new GP consortia groups ran out of funding in a financial year, and also about the NHS becoming increasingly business-focused.

She said: 'My biggest concern is the cost and the lack of money in the NHS.'

The 19 practices in the consortium are:

Dr Paul Harris's practice, based at Adelaide Street Health Centre

Bacon Road Medical Centre

Castle Partnership (Mile End Road Surgery, Tuckswood Surgery in Hall Road and the Gurney Surgery in Magdalen Street)

Hellesdon Medical Practice

Lawson Road Surgery

Lakenham Surgery, Ninham Street

Magdalen Medical Practice, Lawson Road

Newmarket Road Surgery

Oak Street Medical Practice

Old Palace Medical Practice

Prospect Medical Practice, Aylsham Road

St Stephen's Gate Medical Practice, Wessex Street

East Norwich Medical Partnership, Aslake Close in Sprowston and St William's Way in Thorpe St Andrew

Trinity and Bowthorpe Medical Practice (Trinity Street Surgery and Bowthorpe Health Centre, Wendene)

Wensum Valley Medical Practice (Bates Green Health Centre, West Earlham Health Centre in Earlham West Centre, Adelaide Street Health Centre)

West Pottergate Health Centre, Earlham Road

Woodcock Road Surgery

Yare Valley Medical Practice, Thorpe Road and Rider Haggard Road

UEA Medical Centre, University Drive

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