Richmond ready for NHS changes
Government changes to the NHS introduced in Andrew Lansley’s health and social care bill earlier this year are starting to take shape in Richmond.
Key NHS partners have now moved into the council’s offices in Twickenham, ahead of their formal transition next April, in the biggest change to the health service in 50 years.
Under Government reforms, primary care trusts will be replaced by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), placing the responsibility of local health services with doctors.
Dominic Wright, authorising officer of the CCG, rebutted critics’ claims the move would lead to privatisation in the NHS and said patients in Richmond would benefit.
He said: “The doctors are in charge. We may include elements of private provision, but that is no different to what has happened before. The main thing is about giving patients choice.”
The new system aims to give patients a more efficient service, with health experts working in collaboration with the council to give people a more joined up experience when they visit their doctor or a hospital.
From April, the CCG will hold the budget for local health services and will commission or buy health services including acute hospital care and services in the community.
Cathy Kerr, director of adults and community services, said: “This is a really good example of statutory organisations working together and making good use of limited services. By working closely together there are better outcomes for local residents.”
Richmond Council will also become responsible for public health which includes smoking, alcohol and obesity when the changes take effect in April.
Councillor Nicola Urquhart, cabinet member for health, said the move will help the public health team prepare themselves before April, who is currently operating in shadow form.
Coun Urquhart said: “This move, six months ahead of the change in legislation will enable us to work as one team to put in all the preparation needed to hit the ground running when the changes come into effect.”