Headlines: March 30th, 2005

GPs are to be given new freedoms to deliver a wider range of services on patients’ doorsteps as a result of a new programme launched by the Department for Health. This move of services from hospitals to primary care trusts will extend the provision of medical tests and local care for diabetes, asthma and arthritis and it is now planned to bring in radiographers, physiotherapists and community nurses to enable delivery of a wider range of services locally.In addition to giving GPs greater freedom to procure more services for their patients, the programme will also provide additional GPs and primary care professionals to treat patients in areas where there is limited GP availability. Inequalities in the numbers of GPs across the country often mean that places with the greatest need have the lowest number of doctors. The programme could see the opening of new GP practices in deprived areas. The aim is to ensure that every patient has access to a GP when they need one. The programme is designed to make this happens, especially in deprived areas that are currently under-doctored.

It was also announced that to give patients choice about where they are treated a further 26 NHS Walk-in Centres are being developed, including seven focused on meeting the health needs of commuters.