Headlines: July 16th, 1999

The 481 Primary Care Groups launched in April 1999 face important challenges. This is the conclusion of the Audit Commission which has looked at a sample of groups and their initial responsibilities. A particular challenge will be for professionals and managers to find new ways of working together.

Partnership within the Group and with other agencies is the key to success, but there are likely to be difficulties ensuring that all those involved in the Group act together to develop joint strategies and systems responsive to patient care. Similarly, engaging with all the parties involved and setting realistic incentives to secure quick and early benefits for patients, carers and their wider local communities is seen as essential.

Good ideas need to be shared and the drive to improve clinical practice strengthened. Financial management is seen as a particular problem with conflict between the need to control expenditure while meeting patients’ legitimate clinical needs.