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In Cumbria, the journey we have been on for the last four years through our transfer of responsibilities to GP-led localities and the provision of more care closer to home, has allowed us to develop greater clinical leadership and be at the forefront of national changes.

Local GPs have been involved in planning how and where services should be delivered for communities for a number of years. This includes being involved in developing some of the new NHS services which you use now including integrated health and social care teams, long-term condition self-management programmes and new tests for heart failure.


GPs see patients in their surgeries day in, day out, so they know what their patients need and what local people’s concerns are. They can see which services work, and perhaps how services could be tweaked to make them work better for patients and ensure that people get the best care and treatment they need quickly.


No. In order to take on this work, every family doctor in Cumbria has voted for a group of GPs to represent them and help make these decisions on their behalf.

There are now groups of GPs in every locality in Cumbria (Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland) who meet to make decisions about health services in their area.

Six GPs, one from each of these groups then meet at a county-level to make decisions which affect the whole of Cumbria.


GPs in Cumbria have already started to put in place more joined-up care so patients no longer have to put up with some of the frustrations they have today – with different appointments in different places, with different people, all to discuss the same thing.

Prevention schemes for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and respiratory illnesses are also supporting people to manage their conditions better.

Rapid-response nursing and social care teams have been created to help people get the care and support they need in their own homes in one go, and family doctors are working side-by-side with hospital consultants to improve hospital care.

Family doctors know and understand their patients. Every GP in Cumbria is part of these changes.


Clinical Commissioning Groups are groups of GPs that are responsible for designing local health services In England. They do this by commissioning or buying health and care services including:

  • Elective hospital care
  • Rehabilitation care
  • Urgent and emergency care
  • Most community health services
  • Mental health and learning disability services

Clinical Commissioning Groups work with patients and healthcare professionals and in partnership with local communities and local authorities to develop health services that meet the needs of their communities.

All GP practices to belong to a Clinical Commissioning Group.

On their governing body, CCGs have, in addition to GPs, a least one registered nurse and a doctor who is a secondary care specialist.

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group was established in shadow form in 2011/12 to allow GPs to prepare to take over the commissioning role from NHS Cumbria, Cumbria’s primary care trust. NHS Cumbria CCG then became a statutory organisation in April 2013.

Cumbria is split into six localities – Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland. NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group has elected a local family doctor from each part of the county to work with hospital doctors, nurses, patients and the wider public to plan how health services should be designed and funded in their area. GPs are also elected to each locality board to provide clinical leadership in key areas.

GPs are now the guardians of their patients’ care, from home to hospital and back again.

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