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'Cornershop' remark about small practices displays ignorance, Simon Stevens

The NHS chief executive should be investigating why small practices lack support rather than publicly criticising them, writes Dr Krishna Chaturvedi

From Dr Krishna Chaturvedi, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex

I would like to share my disgust and annoyance over the address to the RCGP conference of newly appointed NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens describing, I presume, small practices as the ‘cornershop model’.

Mr Stevens has no idea what he is saying. I pity his ignorance and insensitivity towards small practices and deplore his irresponsible address to the conference.

People like him, paid so well by the taxpayer, should not address a conference in such a manner. I am absolutely appalled that none of our RCGP colleagues or other senior figures, some of whom were or are singlehanded practitioners, did not react to this statement.

Mr Stevens needs to do some whistlestop tours like the Labour party did. For example, we invited former Prime Minister Tony Blair to our practice after he questioned the quality of care provided by singlehanded practitioners in 2002.

We also invited him to Southend to see the Small Practice Academy of Clinical Excellence (SPACE) group we are working in, established in the 1990s and still running successfully.

Just like our former prime minister, Mr Stevens is more than welcome to travel from his ivory tower to get feedback from his NHS workforce.

He could also look at the public feedback about the NHS practices in Southend, which is excellent.

Of course the NHS needs modernisation but until we sort out the basics, Mr Stevens should at least try to avoid remarks that are not only incorrect and non-evidence-based, but insensitive and demoralising to a workforce that is already struggling to cope.

Small practices have always been treated in an inequitable manner and have always had to push for support from the Department of Health. Mr Stevens should try to address that instead of attacking us, and choose his words carefully in future.

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