11:46 09 May 2011
The government has said that it wants to overhaul the way the NHS works in England.
GPs will be given much more responsibility than they have now when it comes to spending the budget, under the proposed new plans, and greater competition with the private sector will be encouraged.
We take a look at some of the key questions to help you work out how the proposed changes will affect you and your medical care.
Who is responsible for the budget at the moment?
It is local health managers working for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) that are currently in control of the majority of spending, using funds to plan and buy services for patients, including mental health clinics and hospital care.
These changes would mean the phasing out of PCT's and regional bodies called Strategic Health Authorities and much of that responsibility would be transferred to GPs across the country.
The aim is to get these changes up and running by April 2013.
Will my local GP become a manager?
In most cases, no. Only a handful of GPs will get involved in making the decisions for all the doctors in their area.
They are also likely to employ some of the managers that previously worked for PCTs to do day-to-day admin and management.
How much will these changes cost?
The cost of the programme is said to be around £1.4billion.
Where will the money for the changes come from?
Most of the amount will come from over 20,000 members of staff who will be made redundant from health authorities, PCTs and the Department of Health.
What changes will patients see?
Visually they will see very few but if the government goes ahead with plan, patients may find themselves with more control over their health care.
Patients will be given more choice over how and where they are treated. Practice boundaries will be scrapped, enabling patients to register with any family doctor they want to.
Patients have also been promised more and clearer information.
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