St Albans and Harpenden GPs may join consortium

GPs in the St Albans and Harpenden area are considering working as part of a new Herts Valleys consortium when changes are introduced in healthcare.

Under the Coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill which was published last week, responsibility for commissioning health services will transfer from primary care trusts (PCT) to groups of GP consortia from 2013.

Where GPs feel ready to explore becoming a consortium they have the opportunity to do so as a “Pathfinder” and that status has been awarded by the Department of Health to Herts Valleys Commissioning Consortium which covers the vast majority of Watford, Dacorum and Hertsmere with a population of over 400,000 people.

The Herts PCT has revealed that St Albans and Harpenden GPs have expressed an interest in working as part of the Herts Valleys consortium and that The Red House Group, a single practice in Radlett with an additional two branches, has also been given the go ahead to explore how they might commission services as a consortium.

Dr Nicholas Small, the current chair of Herts Valleys Consortium’s steering group, said: “We’re pleased to be one of the first areas to explore how the new commissioning arrangements might work. We don’t have all the answers yet – and we don’t expect to so we will be using our time as a pathfinder to develop our commissioning model and test out some new ways of working that I think will produce real benefits for our patients.

“During this phase as a pathfinder, we are keen to see how we can retain a strong local focus as smaller groups of GPs coming together in this larger consortium arrangement for some of our commissioning activity.”