The second stage of Lord Ara Darzi’s National Health Service review was kicked off last week by a series of meetings across the country involving more than 1,000 staff, patients and members of the public.

The meetings, which follow on from a first round organised back in September, are designed to provide stakeholders with a platform to express their opinions on how the NHS can best deliver local health services, and ultimately help shape a “world-class” healthcare system that prevents illness and improves quality of care.

One particular hot topic that emerged from September’s meetings is that of inadequate access to GP services, and this was also focused on in last week’s gatherings.

Darzi addressed this issue in his interim report in October, promising a batch of new health centres in easily-accessible locations and stressing that primary care trusts must bring in new measures to help expand GP surgeries’ opening hours, and participants were asked whether they had noticed any changes in GP opening hours since the report was published.

The findings will likely add fuel to the ongoing heated debate between the government and the British Medical Association, which are currently at loggerheads on how to best provide extended after hours care to improve access to primary care services.

The changing shape of care
Participants in each strategic health authority also looked at a range of health and social care models, including the shape of care today and how it may evolve in the future based on feedback gathered to date, and each SHA is due to publish its own vision for local care in the Spring.

"This Our NHS Our Future review presents a real opportunity for everyone - patients, public and staff - to have a say in shaping the NHS for the 21st century,” Darzi said. "As the NHS enters its 60th year it is a perfect time to look at the current challenges and how the NHS needs to respond to ensure top quality care for all," he stressed.

Darzi is due to present his full report to Health Secretary Alan Johnson before the NHS celebrates its 60th birthday in July.