The NHS is facing the most radical set of reforms since its inception in 1948. The white paper ‘Liberating the NHS’ outlines unprecedented plans to transform healthcare in the UK. GPs will be handed around £80 billion of the NHS budget to commission patient care, with vast swathes of management positions being cut away.
The transition towards a clinically-led health service coincides with a directive to achieve £15-20 billion of efficiency savings during the same period. It makes an ambitious challenge even greater. The timetable for evolution is rapid. In reality, there is neither time nor choice. The NHS must gear itself for immediate change, or risk the heavy price of failure.
The introduction of GP commissioning, along with the incremental abolition of PCTs, is the headline act of the whitepaper. Critics claim that the transfer of power is too risky and that reorganisation will be counter-productive and compromise quality. Opponents also argue that GPs are ill-equipped to manage commissioning budgets.