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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 October 2006, 01:25 GMT 02:25 UK
GPs to carry out more operations
Operating theatre
GPs will help to provide minor operations
Plans that could lead to millions more operations and tests being carried out in doctors' surgeries rather than hospitals are being unveiled.

The government is launching a nationwide wave of pilot schemes which aim to end long trips to large hospital for many minor procedures.

These 30 schemes will test how teams of GPs, consultants, and nurses can deliver services like hernia repair.

The government said most people wanted NHS services close to home.

Other procedures assessed by the demonstration projects include varicose vein repairs and diagnostic tests.

In some areas, this will involve making sure there are GPs who are as skilled with the scalpel as they are with the stethoscope
Lord Warner Health Minister

The Department of Health pilots will investigate shifting care in the areas of urology, ear, nose and throat, dermatology, orthopaedics, gynaecology and general surgery.

Health Minister Lord Warner said: "We know from our white paper consultation that the majority of people support moving NHS services closer to home.

"These innovative pilots are a vital step towards providing NHS patients with what they want - the right care, in the right place, performed by the appropriate skilled person."

Local services

He added: "In some areas, this will involve making sure there are GPs who are as skilled with the scalpel as they are with the stethoscope."

Clinicians, including the Royal College of General Practitioners, also welcomed the announcement of the pilot schemes.

Professor Mayur Lakhani, chairman of the RCGP said: "There is an untapped potential for primary care to deliver even more services for patients."

Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: "The care closer to home agenda is about providing good local, accessible services that meet people's needs.

"The NHS all too often runs services that force patients to move from place to place to get treated."

Among the ideas being tested are consultant-led clinics provided in community settings, surgery led by specially trained GPs, nurse-led services, dedicated telephone follow-up systems for outpatients and home chemotherapy.

Details of the operations to be done by family doctors

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