Headlines: October 9th, 1998

The Department of Health has invited bids from a fund of five million pounds which it has set aside to help the start-up of more pilot projects providing flexible primary health care for patients.The money will fund the second wave of Peronsal Medical Services pilots, described as a key element of Labour’s modernisation of the health service.

Proposals, to reach the Department by April 30 next year, should be put together by health authorities, working together with family doctors, nurses and community trusts.

Alan Milburn, Minister for Health, said “They are a vehicle to help GPs provide services at a time convenient to patients – improving access to services.

“Second, PMS pilots provide an opportunity to be more flexible about employment practices so that if you want to get the experience of, say, working in an inner city, but aren’t ready to invest in a practice there, you can do so by taking up the salaried option. Or it can make life easier to balance providing a good service, with your home and family life.”

There are currently more than 80 first-wave pilots, ranging from practice-based pilots – some with GPs and nurses working in partnership together – to nurse-led pilots, and ones with salaried doctors employed by a community Trust. Many pilots are focusing on a particular client group, such as elderly or mentally ill people, or children. Others are looking at the health needs of people in deprived areas, travellers, homeless people, or substance misusers.