NHS shakeup could include blood pressure checks at bookmakers

People in some parts of England could be offered blood pressure checks at bookmakers under the biggest NHS shake-up in a decade.

Some 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) come into force today, bringing together GPs, hospitals, care services and other local groups.

Clinical commissioning groups, which previously controlled local health budgets, will no longer exist as part of the changes.

Under the scheme, a GP in Stockport offers blood pressure checks at bookmakers, while a sports club in Coventry and North Warwickshire offers diabetes and obesity support through GP referrals and access to Gym.

Some GP offices have hired mental health staff to help young people.

NHS England said the reforms will also save around £14m a year by reducing the number of NHS chief executives by nearly 170.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said integrated care systems “have the power to truly transform the way we care for people across the country”.

“Through these schemes, we are already making a big difference to people’s lives.

“The NHS will now build on this success and innovation and provide patients with the right care for the future, as well as saving taxpayers millions of pounds every year.”

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Some critics have expressed concern that integrated care systems, which divide the country into geographic areas of similar-sized populations, are not equal in terms of needs and resources.

The Health Foundation, an independent charity, said in June: “The task facing ICS is not equal.

“Pressures on population health and services vary widely among ICSs, as do the resources available to address them.

“ICS also look very different in size, complexity and other features.

“Variations within the NHS are nothing new, but these differences will shape how ICS work and their ability to collaborate to improve services.”

The British Medical Association said on its website: “The BMA supports efforts to improve collaboration both within the NHS and across the health and care sector, likewise we recognize the potential value of further integration.

“However, we do not support a single model of integration and have been highly critical of the approach that national agencies have taken to the development of the ICS and its predecessors, the STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plan).

“The BMA also actively opposed the Health and Care Act during its passage through parliament and campaigned vigorously for it to be heavily amended.

“More specifically, we believe it is essential that ICS embed a strong clinical voice throughout their structures, keep decision-making local, are free from private sector competition and involvement, and are led by the NHS and responsible public bodies.” .

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