Medical practice ‘pointing way forward’

AN Eastbourne medical practice hopes to fortify its position in the changing NHS landscape – claiming it has saved health authorities more than £100,000 in four years.

Dr Jörg Bruuns, co-founder of East Sussex Outpatient Services (ESOPS) in South Cliff, has stuck his head above the parapet claiming his consultant-only medical practice has, and could be, a good value cog in the local health economy machine.

He says ESOPS - which specialises in orthopaedics and gynaecology among other things - can save health authorities up to 20 per cent per patient who need to see a consultant.

But despite undercutting hospitals, he says the medical practice is a complimentary service and not a replacement.

He said, “The idea is we’re trying to form one small part of the solution to health services. We’re not putting the hospital out of business.

“It should be an open collaborative competition in a way that can create a win-win-win for the patient, hospital and us.”

Watching patients on the merry-go-round of hospital referrals proved a dizzying and enlightening experience for Dr Bruuns. His years at the Eastbourne District General Hospital inspired him to co-found ESOPS in 2006, which receives more than 2,000 referrals from 75 GPs a year.

Dr Bruuns says his medical practice can help cut back on hospital waiting times and offers good value for Primary Care Trusts’ money.

He hopes his cheaper prices will also appeal to the groups of family doctors who’ll replace PCTs by 2013.

While declining to comment specifically on ESOPS, a spokesperson for the East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT, which buys services from the DGH, said, “We are working closely with the developing local GP consortia to develop a long-term strategy for the procurement of local health services.

“As part of this strategy a proportion of services will, in due course, be put out to tender and any willing provider of services will be able to submit a bid to run a service.

“This will help improve local services by giving local GPs the ability to commission services which are of a high quality and which provide the best possible value for the public funding invested in them.”