New body formed to examine West Norfolk GP services

Views of King's Lynn

The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn

The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456

Views of King's Lynn The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456

A new committee formed to oversee the procurement of GP services in West Norfolk will hold its first meeting next week.

Health chiefs claim the body, led by the West Norfolk clinical commissioning group (CCG) and NHS England, will give local officials more influence on service provision.

But campaigners said they had little faith in the new set-up to address current concerns.

The joint committee will meet for the first time at West Norfolk Council’s offices in Lynn on Monday morning, from 10am.

The body will be made up of representatives of the CCG and NHS England. The group also says patients will be represented on the panel.

Officials from two other bodies, Healthwatch Norfolk and the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board, will also be able to attend committee meetings but will not be able to vote.

The new model is one of three options which have been put forward by NHS England to allow local groups a greater say on the commissioning of services.

Chris Humphris, the CCG’s operations director, said: “By sharing responsibility for commissioning GP services with NHS England, our local CCG will have more influence on the commissioning of general practice in West Norfolk and will help to ensure that health services are joined up across all parts of the health system.

“We welcome members of the public who have an interest in primary care commissioning to attend these meetings where there will be the opportunity to ask questions.”

But the two bodies have also been at the heart of moves to reduce the funding allocated to some GP surgeries, including those operated by Vida Healthcare across the borough.

Opponents of those measures have previously threatened legal action in a bid to halt them while a similar case affecting a practice in Yorkshire is ongoing.

And they claim that questions over how services the group is having to axe to cut costs will be provided in the future have still not been addressed by the CCG.

Patients’ group representatives are due to meet with Vida practice managers on Monday.

And Dan O’Connor, a member of the patient participation group at the Hollies practice in Downham said yesterday: “If this is evidence of a joined up health system in West Norfolk, then heaven help us all.”

According to NHS England, around three-quarters of all CCGs across the country are taking part in joint commissioning models with them.

However, it said about half of those groups have chosen to take full delegated responsibility for commissioning 
decisions, with a third using joint structures like West Norfolk.

It claimed a delegated model is most likely to offer greater benefits for patients, including the potential for greater public involvement in decision making.