New head of Camden GP commissioning group allays fears of NHS privatisation in the borough

David Cryer, Chief Officer and Dr Caz Sayer, Chair of the Camden Commissioning Group.

David Cryer, Chief Officer and Dr Caz Sayer, Chair of the Camden Commissioning Group. - Credit: Archant

The head of Camden’s GP commissioning group has insisted health services “will not be further fragmented” amid fears that NHS reform will lead to privatisation.

Dr Caz Sayer, who has worked at Adelaide Road Medical Practice for 20 years, took up her new position at the start of the month.

She is in charge of allocating funds for health services rather than the former NHS primary care trust, which has been axed in government reforms.

Decisions on healthcare will be dealt with by a team of doctors, who will work with the council to deliver services.

Dr Sayer says that the current system is inefficient.

Speaking of research her team carried out into the care given to dementia patients, she said: “We started off by mapping some of these patients and found that there were more than 100 organisations that were often involved in their care and the person who was trying to co-ordinate the care was often the patient, who is the most vulnerable of all.

“Often they’d be going backwards and forwards into acute hospitals and they’d be seeing their GP and there was only some communication. It was very fragmented. So the point about this is to get organisations to come together and see how they could manage patients in a more effective way.”

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David Cryer, chief officer of the GP commissioning group, who is in charge of finance, said: “If you take out all that unnecessary activity, then you should drop the cost.

“The patient should have a better experience and better health.”

Concerns over back door privitisation of the NHS have been raised nationally, with a debate raging on in the House of Lords over regulations that make it easier for commissioning groups to offer contracts to private health care providers.

However, Dr Sayer said that sourcing health care to private companies is not part of Camden GP commissioning group’s current plan.

“The important thing is to integrate services, so we’re not interested in further fragmenting,” she said. “The idea of giving small contracts to a lot of different people is fundamentally not where we wish to go.

“If, in the future, there are areas where outcomes are not being delivered to the standard that we would expect, then I don’t think that we can say that we’re never going to look at alternative providers, but we don’t see that as happening at the moment.”

The commissioning group has nine elected doctors and nurses who vote, and is backed by a board which will meet with community representatives.

Over the past year the group has outlined five main priorities; to improve children’s services, to improve mental health services, to shift care into the community, to integrate care, and to prevent diseases, with cardiovascular disease as a prime concern.

Dr Sayer believes working more closely with local authorities will help the group target services more effectively and improve health in Camden.

She also believes there are many benefits of having a GP in charge of commissioning.

“I still see patients one day a week, and those patients come in and tell me what they think about how we’re doing as commissioners,” she said. “And equally I can ask them about services that they’re after, so you have a very direct link to patients and the services they experience.”