Bringing back the pride
Tony Blair has been banging the drum for the NHS and says patients overwhelmingly find it great. Actually what patients say is that their GPs are great but the NHS leaves much to be desired.
GPs also feel the NHS leaves much to be desired. According to MORI, no other body of people are so disillusioned with their conditions of work – 30 per cent, compared with about 8 per cent in other professions.
A current bone of contention seems to be that hospital services were not reconfigured six years ago when money was flowing. The current reconfiguration is perceived as being due to shortage of cash rather than the desire to improve things. Yet GPs are required to sell these changes.
Currently most GPs have little engagement, or frankly the time, to consider the strategic direction in which the NHS is headed. Nor are they supposed to be 'managers' in the sense that managers devise policy and organise it and administrate it. On the other hand, GPs do have a very clear idea of what works, what doesn't work, and what needs to be done across many areas of the NHS. It would make a lot of sense to empower us to develop some bottom up thinking.
Appointing a GP as a corporate PEC chair alongside the PCT chief executive and chair would make a strong start.
Giving PBC GPs lead roles alongside directors would be another step in the right direction.
It is easy to forget that a third of the population go to A&E every year. That translates into 18.5 million printouts for us to read the next day. We know that only 10 per cent of our patients really needed to be seen, yet the creation of alternatives remains largely an enigma. GPs' views and ideas should be listened to here.
Again, it has been suggested that the cause of angioplasty and acute CT scanning in stroke could save thousands of lives a year, both issues I have championed before. The obvious thing is for GPs and consultants to get together and work out a plan.
As we GPs look to the future we need to look to the core principles which define us as professionals and start to lead some of the changes. We don't need to start big.
A small step each in an area of personal expertise would do far more to start change and instil pride than any Whitehall initiative.
Dr Andy Jones is a GP in Stamford, Lincolnshire