This paper sets out proposed arrangements to give GP practices commissioning budgets. from April 2005. The right to hold a budget is a first step towards the development of a sophisticated range of ways in which practices are involved in commissioning which support the principle of greater devolution. Practice based commissioning will assume greater importance in the NHS system overall. It will raise the profile of patient choice as a driver for quality and empowerment. Practises will be able to secure a wider range of services, more responsive to patient needs and from which patients can choose. From 2008 the impact of free choice for elective procedures will change the dynamic further. Practices could then use their commissioning abilities to identify alternative provision, including in primary care, to give patients greater choice.Patients will benefit from GP commissioning through a greater variety of services, a greater number of providers and treatment in settings that are closer to home and more convenient to patients. The NHS as a whole will benefit from more efficient use of services and greater involvement of front line doctors and nurses in commissioning decisions.
The paper is available at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/09/03/59/04090359.pdf