At a glance: NHS Live

What is it? A year-long NHS programme to develop tailor-made healthcare plans for patients. According to the DoH, nearly 350 NHS and social care organisations are identifying local conduits by which patients can shape services.

So why should PROs be interested?

Because it creates chances for involvement with patients in a variety of practice areas until June 2005. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are two of six sponsors so far, as well as Boots and Oracle, which are tasked with bringing market knowledge to various projects. The Government says it is creating ‘joint learning opportunities between the NHS and the private sector’.

But what’s in it for the sponsors?

The DoH is also suggesting that the ‘mutual exchange of best practice’ will be part of the programme. So this could be an extra avenue through which a relevant product or treatment is promoted, for example. Job swaps and secondments are also on the agenda, which again could create opportunities for positive reinforcement of messages. Each individual scheme can work in partnership with one of the sponsors.

Why is this happening?

It stems from the NHS Improvement Plan launched this month, which talked about a personalised health service for everyone, so the idea is to redesign services to fit what people actually want. Two government ‘tsars’ – David Colin-Thome on chronic disease management and Louis Appleby on mental health – are both involved, and chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson says the aim is ‘putting patients at the heart of services’.

Where are they now – on the periphery?

It’s probably best to think of this as an opportunity for the private sector to get involved in helping decide local healthcare strategies.

So what are we talking about?

The promotion of healthy living among men who don’t make use of preventative services is being trialled by Maldon and South Chelmsford PCT, while another programme in Basildon is helping patients with chronic diseases manage their conditions at home.

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