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GPs offered guide to better commissioning

RCGP says local people must be involved in CCG decision-making

Mark Gould

Wednesday, 03 April 2013

The Royal College of General Practitioners has issued new guidance to help Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) work with their communities to come to commissioning decisions rather than imposing top down decision-making.

As CCGs take over NHS commissioning responsibilities this week 'Working with Communities, Developing Communities', puts forward both a financial and health case as to why investing resources in community development is beneficial for local populations, primary care practitioners and CCGs.

It uses case studies to illustrate successful collaborations between primary and secondary care and local communities. These include the Health Empowerment Leverage Project (HELP) in Devon - one of the principal case studies in the report which saw an NHS saving of £558,714 over 3 years and an estimated annual wider societal savings across England of £130 million. HELP focuses on brokering “dynamic cooperation and problem-solving between communities, health agencies and other partners”.

Another example is the Healthy Communities Collaborative in and around Salford, Greater Manchester, which targeted reducing falls in older people and saw a saving of £1.2 million in hospital costs, £2.75 million in residential care costs and £120,000 in ambulance costs over three years. It also suggests the adoption of ‘Time Banks’ which use participants’ time and skills as currency instead of money.

The guide also explains the need for CCGs to work together and build partnerships within their communities between health, education, housing and other services including policing.

The RCGP says community development comes in many forms but all focus on maximising the potential of local individuals and community groups in shaping how public services develop, creating opportunities and solving problems.

The RCGP says the health benefits from effective community development include: improved social integration which evidence has shown to increase resilience against physical and mental health problems; promoting social networking which has been shown to tackle health inequalities and promoting wider societal benefits; and sustainability in terms of the impact on health services, employment opportunities, education, housing and policing.

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada spoke of the need to “engage with the people we have been commissioned to serve”.

She added: "The people within the community should have their say in what they think will make their society, their lives, better; be it health or education or housing. They should have a role in making these things happen. As leaders, we need to listen to them and develop lasting relationships between services, concentrating on the things that our local populations really want and need.

“We must trust our communities to work proactively with us for the greater good of society, inclusive of healthcare as well as other essential services. We need to believe that people want to look after themselves and work towards a better, healthier, life for themselves, their families and their communities.”

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