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Patients are being ignored in shake-up of community services

Changes are being 'steamrollered' through without consulting patients

OnMedica staff

Tuesday, 02 February 2010

Plans to transfer community services in England to the control of acute hospital trusts will be detrimental to patient care, the chairman of the NHS Alliance will warn in a speech today.

Devon GP Dr Michael Dixon warns that Primary Care Trusts are being "steamrollered" into these changes without consulting patients.

In a speech to the National Association for Patient Participation conference he will warn: "The PCTs are now being steamrollered into producing their plans to achieve this by the end of March and the Department of Health preferred model is that these services should all be handed to Acute Trusts.

"Not a single patient was asked yet this unwise diktat will have far greater negative impact on the care of the average vulnerable patient than anything that patient choice might possibly achieve for the positive."

Dr Dixon argues that patient choice in the NHS is not enough and that the only way for patients to get a true handle over what services they get is when they are themselves "inside" the health service, driving decisions and not "pawns in some large political game played by politicians and senior managers simply throwing them choice as a sop".

He adds: "It is time to go the whole hog when it comes to patient involvement and the health service. It is the only way that we will get a good health service. It is the only way that we will get a cost effective health service. It is the only way that we will be able to hand our children and grandchildren a health service that we are proud of."

He says this sort of relationship is already developing where the NAPP has several hundred members who are leading patient involvement in their GP practices and which is encouraging more GP practices to do the same.

Dr Dixon will argue that the NHS could make substantial savings by allowing patients to fully engage and participate in the service and encouraging them to create health in their own community.

"Patient involvement should go far beyond decisions on local services and health initiatives. Patients need to be part of co-producing the NHS itself. We also need to extend the whole issue of choice. In the individual consultation, with professionals like myself, the real choice when you have a painful shoulder is not the choice of hospital that I refer you to.

"It is the choice of different possible treatments – things that you might do for yourself, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, manipulation, physiotherapy in the surgery, a joint injection, conventional or a complementary remedy to name a few. Letting patients make an informed choice of what is done to them is far more important than simply giving them a choice of where they go and when they go to hospital."

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