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Consultants dominate new SHA leadership posts as GPs frozen out

By Gareth Iacobucci

General practice has been completely excluded from a new wave of leadership appointments made to drive forward Lord Darzi's reforms.

A raft of new strategic health authority medical director posts have been established under the leadership plans unveiled in the health minister's NHS Next Stage review.

But Pulse has found that secondary care clinicians have monopolised the appointments, with not a single post going to a practising GP.

It is the latest evidence of GPs being left in the cold over Lord Darzi's plans, after our investigation revealed three times as many consultants as GPs had been appointed to implementation teams.

The news has fuelled growing anger over the way GP leaders have been frozen out of key decisions for the future of the profession.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said the findings confirmed his worst fears about GPs being frozen out.

‘It's really disappointing. I've always said the NHS is primary care-free at SHA level. This seems to confirm that fear.

‘We're seeing secondary care people in place as medical directors. The national leadership board hasn't included one single primary care clinician.'

‘We're told we have a local NHS, but localism seems to stop at SHAs. All the rhetoric is of a primary care-led NHS, but the left hand doesn't connect to the right.

Among those appointed were pathologist Dr William Roche, who will start at NHS South East Coast 1 April 2009, anaesthetist Dr Mike Durkin at NHS South West, psychiatrist Dr Neil Deuchar at NHS West Midlands who started on 21 January, and vascular surgeon Professor Chris Welch in NHS Yorkshire and Humber.

Elsewhere, Dr Kathy McClean - consultant in stroke medicine – has been appointed in the East Midlands – while Dr Steve Ryan, hospital medical director, was appointed as assistant medical director in the North West in light of the Darzi review.

SHA medical directors already exist in the North East and North West. Dr Ruth Hussey in NHS North West – appointed three years ago – was a former regional director of public health.

In the North East, Professor Stephen Singleton, also a former RDPH and previously a GP, is the only one with a primary care background.

Dr Dixon added: ‘It seems to be that primary care clinicians are neither understood or valued up to SHA level. My impression at the moment is that primary care is being invited to advise but told not to lead.'

SHA Medical Directors

Area of medicine

Hospital 5
Public health 2
GPs 0

Dr Michael Dixon: angry GPs have been frozen out once again Dr Michael Dixon: angry GPs have been frozen out once again

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