This evening I was invited to a meeting of members of the South Reading GP Consortium - local GPs and practice staff from 18 practices across South and West Reading who between them serve nearly 100,000 patients. The Consortium of practices was set up in 2006 and is led by dynamic local GP Elizabeth Johnston, who I was delighted to meet. Under the Coalition Government's plans local GPs will have more power as PCTs and SHAs are to be abolished.
Today the Department of Health announced that the South Reading Consortium is one of 52 groups of practices chosen to be 'pathfinders' - this means they will be among the first group of GPs in England to take on and develop commissioning responsibilities.
The Health White Paper Equity and Excellence published in the Summer set out plans to devolve commissioning decisions and health budgets to GPs. This has been highly controversial but I hope that greater clinical involvement in decision-making will lead to better care for patients.
The fact that South Reading Consortium was selected for this programme is testament to the hard work done by thesel local health leaders and it was a privilege to meet them. Between them these GPs represent some of the most deprived communities in our town so it is vital the Council and other local partners work with them to achieve the best possible health outcomes for all residents in the Reading area.