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Darzi: NHS saviour or destroyer?

Not so long ago, Lord Darzi was plain old Professor Sir Ara Darzi, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon but not at the time the purported saviour of the NHS.

Not so long ago, Lord Darzi was plain old Professor Sir Ara Darzi, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon but not at the time the purported saviour of the NHS.

How things have changed in the nine short months since Gordon Brown appointed him to overhaul the health service.

Every aspect of clinical care from maternity to end of life, out-of-hours services, practice finance and access to GPs, all fall within the gaping remit of Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review.

And it is not only the scope of the review which boggles, but its depth.

We are told that Darzi will be taking decisions on the minutiae of MPIG funding, on the future development of the QOF and on complex commissioning arrangements.

This single, unelected politician truly does appear to hold the entire future of the NHS in his hands.

Policy supremo

So it would be nice, therefore, to feel as much confidence in those hands as his patients presumably do when he operates.

Lord Darzi's record as a consultant cardiologist and a researcher is undoubtedly superb. His record as a policy supremo is much less certain, and his experience of primary care is almost non-existent.

Since his appointment, a range of leading GPs, from Mike Dixon to James Kingsland to Steve Field, have insisted their task was to make Lord Darzi understand the intricacies of general practice. So far, none of them appears to have succeeded.

The decision to roll out polyclinics in every area of the country, irrespective of the views and needs of local people, is a classic example of a failure to appreciate how general practice works.

And the revelation that demand will be so lacking for some of these clinics that they will see only two patients a day is a classic demonstration of the consequences of such misunderstandings.

Lord Darzi needs to start listening, and fast, if he is to be a saviour of the NHS, and not a key culprit in its demise.

Editorial

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