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Independents' Day

'Develop brand or die', new Family Doctor Association chair warns GPs

By Steve Nowottny

Exclusive: Every GP practice must develop a brand, advertise their services and market themselves to patients or risk facing closure, the new chair of the Family Doctor Association has warned.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Peter Swinyard, a GP in Swindon, Wiltshire, predicted that even small, traditional practices could be forced to follow Darzi centres in taking out adverts in cinemas or on buses in a bid to attract patients.

In June Pulse revealed that a GP-led health centre in Plymouth had taken out eight-second ads in a local multiplex cinema, while last month it emerged that NHS Norfolk was plugging its newly opened GP-led health centre on the side of city buses.

Dr Swinyard said that longstanding surgeries should ‘absolutely' adopt similar tactics, and said that his own practice was ‘looking at how we advertise our services to compete against our competitors.'

‘Some people who live quite close to my practice do not know that my building is a surgery,' he said. ‘So why haven't I actually put a big sign up saying The Phoenix Surgery, please come and register with us, because we would like to have a few more patients than we actually do?'

‘I'm a competitive business now. It's no good just thinking your list size will stay – it won't. Patients are more mobile – in towns where there is a Darzi centre, patients are attracted by the idea of hot and cold running nurses from 8am to 8pm.'

‘Any practice that thinks it can sit back on its laurels and do what its always done will find that it's going to shrink and die.'

The full interview

To read the full transcript of the interview with Dr Swinyard - including what Tory polices would mean for GPs, how to resolve the partner-salaried split and why other GP organisations are ‘deeply boring' - please click here.

You can also watch a video interview with Dr Swinyard here.

Dr Peter Swinyard, new chair of the Family Doctor Association Dr Peter Swinyard, new chair of the Family Doctor Association

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