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MP: Put patients in charge of NHS
WYCOMBE'S MP is pushing for plans which could see doctors surgeries opening for longer hours to help workers.
Steve Baker, Conservative, has called for patients to be put in charge of the NHS and backed the idea of creating patient-led commissioning groups.
These bodies would give patients the chance to set up work-friendly and night-time opening hours and potentially even old-fashioned home visits from doctors.
His comments come as David Cameron announced a £50m project to make evening or weekends appointments more available.
A pilot scheme will take part in nine areas in England, with surgeries able to bid for funding to open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. The idea, The Prime Minister said, was for doctors fit in with work and family life.
Mr Baker wrote: "It’s time to put patients in charge of the NHS. Patient-led commissioning groups offer an opportunity to improve radically the empowerment of the public and the responsiveness of the NHS.
"Membership-based bodies like unions, co-operatives and friendly societies are exactly the sorts of organisations which already possess the infrastructure to establish their own patient-led commissioning groups."
These bodies would also get powers to negotiate GP's contracts.
They would be consumer mutuals, he said, directly accountable to the patients who sign up to them and able to drive GPs and healthcare providers to increase quality of treatments.
Mr Baker said the issue will be central in his work as Chairman of the Conservative Public Services Committee.
Mr Baker said: "It’s time to enable healthcare decisions to be taken away from the monopolistic power of an unaccountable elite and placed with an ever-more informed public. People know what they want and they know what they are getting today is not it."
Mr Baker, writing for the Conservative Home website, has also blasted the NHS's lack of accountability to the public, expressing his frustration at the "leeching away of services" from Wycombe Hospital.
He said at a critical time for the NHS, following the Keogh Review, which placed Buckinghamshire's hospitals in special measures following damning conclusions about high death rates, patients need power on deciding how care is delivered.
Mr Baker cited work by the think tank Civitas which proposes allowing members of the public to form patient-led commissioning groups to compete with the new GP-led clinical commissioning groups.
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