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28-07-2010 | General practice | Article

NHS reforms 'need public health focus'

Abstract

King’s Fund – Public health: a new direction?

The government's plan to transfer commissioning to GPs could derail public health initiatives, experts from the King's Fund have warned.

Director of policy at the think-tank, Dr Anna Dixon, said: "We need to make sure that the decisions that are being made on the White Paper don't make the task of improving population health and reducing health inequalities more difficult."

Speaking at an event alongside health minister Anne Milton, Dr Dixon said that there is a danger that the National Health Service (NHS) will no longer see health as its responsibility, rather health care in isolation.

Narrowly defined targets for clinical outcomes under the Quality and Outcomes Framework mean GPs are focused on individual patients and miss out on primary prevention opportunities that impact at the broader, population level, she explained.

And, despite evidence that brief GP interventions around alcohol and smoking are effective, GPs and other practice staff in deprived areas all too often fail to take a public health perspective.

"We need to be very clear that… within the framework that the National commissioning board sets for GP commissioners we get the incentives right, that they do take a population view," Dr Dixon said.

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Steve Field said he agreed with the need to lobby government on the issue, the BBC reported.

"There is a risk here, especially as not every GP has a great knowledge of public health," he said.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Caroline Price