Doctor prescribes a healthy future

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A MORPETH doctor is taking the lead in shaping health services in Northumberland.

Dr Alistair Blair, who is a partner in the Wellway Medical Group, has been appointed head of the new Northumberland Commissioning Consortium.

The group, which includes all 46 GP practices in the county, is one of 141 pathfinder consortia nationwide that will test out the Government’s new arrangements for the NHS in the run up to the phasing out of primary care trusts in March 2013.

Dr Blair said: “The establishment of GP consortia provides a great opportunity for GPs and other healthcare professionals who work in primary care to commission health services that meet the needs of their local population.

“We are ideally placed to understand the needs of our patients and to make sure that the services that are developed locally meet their wishes.

“As a consortium, we intend to focus on providing healthcare closer to where people live to avoid unnecessary travelling to hospital and to create more support in the community for vulnerable and elderly people and for those with long-term conditions to reduce avoidable hospital admissions.”

He added: “We hope we can build on the current commissioning strengths and work with colleagues in primary care, hospitals, the local authority, the community and voluntary sector and local people to ensure services that enhance patient care in this challenging economic climate.”

Dr Blair was appointed following a nomination and endorsement process involving the local medical committee, Northumberland County Council, North East Strategic Health Authority and NHS North of Tyne.

The doctor, who grew up in Northumberland, trained in Liverpool, working in hospitals across the north west and Northumberland, before qualifying as a GP in 1999.

He has worked twice for Medecins Sans Frontiers in war zones in Sri Lanka and around the Kenya Somali border, and has completed a Masters in Public Health.

He has also worked as locum GP in several Northumberland practices and was a prison GP at Durham.

Dr Blair is a GP trainer and achieved Fellowship of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

For several years he has been the locality practice based commissing lead, and for the past year he has been a member of the North of Tyne Professional Executive Committee and a Regional Clinical Leadership Fellow.

During the next two years the Northumberland consortium will work closely with NHS North of Tyne for the smooth transition of responsibilities.