GPs ‘willing to hear patients’ over NHS budget shake-up

GPs are “more than willing to listen” to patients according to the chairman of a Redbridge forum which will act as a bridge between the two parties under NHS reforms.

Melvyn Weinberg has been chosen by ballot to head up Redbridge’s clinical commissioning forum which represents patients’ views to doctors.

From April, GPs will take over responsibility for the borough’s NHS budget and the commissioning of services and Mr Weinberg, who is retired with a background in publishing, has spoken to the Recorder about what the forum hopes to achieve.

He said: “The priority for us is to improve GP and hospital services in Redbridge for the people who use them. We aim to work with the GPs, but we are clear that our responsibility is more to the patients.

“With all the changes that are coming to the NHS, it is really important that local people have a say and are kept informed.”

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), led by GPs, will replace NHS North East London and the City, the cluster of seven primary care trusts including Redbridge.

Members of the CCG attend forum meetings, of which there have been two so far, so they can feed back patient views and Mr Weinberg hopes there will be a constant dialogue between the two bodies.

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He said: “All the indications I’ve received so far show the GPs are more than willing to listen.

“We aim to be as representative as we can and to avoid this just being a talking shop.”

Mr Weinberg has chaired a patient participation group at Gants Hill Medical Centre, Ethelbert Gardens, for the last four years and after volunteering for the forum, he was chosen as chairman last month.

The forum has between 20 and 30 members and aims to get representation from four areas – Cranbrook/Loxford; Fairlop; Seven Kings and Wanstead/Woodford.

Mr Weinberg said disabled patients, young patients and family planning will be areas of focus with representatives of bodies such as Age UK and borough GP practices to be included in meetings.