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Independents' Day

Dr Michael Dixon: 'This plan is an enormous vote of confidence in GPs'

The health secretary’s plans for all vulnerable patients to be given a ‘named clinician’ is a recognition of the importance of general practice, says Dr Michael Dixon

Fundamentally, the idea is that there has to be someone with whom the buck stops. Classically, I have even been phoned by patients even in hospital beds asking what is the diagnosis and plan. People need that level of background support, knowing there is someone in charge and someone accountable.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a GP. It does not even necessarily need to be one person. In our practice, we make sure that we hand the baton on when I am up in London so there is someone near.

What it does mean is that there is someone that a frail elderly patient can refer to. The complaint I have heard so often, especially in some inner city practices, is that some patients can’t identify with a particular health professional therefore they feel a bit at sea and if things go wrong, they feel a bit lost.

This recognition, the light shining on general practice in this way - some GPs might interpret this as yet another thing that GPs will have to do. I sympathise with that view. But you might see this announcement as being an upgrade for general practice, a recognition of our importance and a return to realising that the family doctor is the centre of care for patients after several years when a lot of the political rhetoric has been to work round them, circumvent them with NHS Direct and walk-in centres. GPs should regard this as an enormous vote of confidence.

We are seeing primary care being increasingly masterminded by CCGs. We know the local offices are not well resourced for primary care, don’t always have a good knowledge of the history of primary care. I think we are going to see a rapid move towards the primary care contract being run day to day by CCGs in all but name. The issue of how practices will do this will be agreed at CCG level so it is all the more important that CCGs are connected to the frontline.

It is more of a challenge with a workforce that is increasingly part-time. But that doesn’t mean the service should adapt to the changing workforce – what it means is that the changing workforce should keep to the principles that good patient care entails. Having a level of accountability is essential.

Dr Michael Dixon is chair of the NHS Alliance


Readers' comments (8)

  • No accountability without resources !

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  • Recognition - wonderful! No extra cash - typical. As a Practice Manager, I will welcome the day that GPs - as a whole - "grow some" and take a stand against the continuous onslaught: you ask us PMs to cut costs, cut staff and increase efficiencies within your businesses, but you fail to unite against a DoH that is intent on privatising the entire system.

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  • And if I tread in dog poo does that mean the dog appreciates me ....

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  • As a part time GP I care deeply about my patients, but I also care more about my family. Hence I try to juggle both. What I will not do Is be available 24/7 for my patients when I work as part of an excellent team so I know when I am not at work their care is not compromised just because some snake oil salesman of an Minister wants political points. I you can't win, put your family high on your priority list and it is all the fault of part time GPs. Neglect your family and the resultant consequences and its all your fault because you put work first.

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  • A named clinician sounds like a named person to me Dr Dixon! I think you need to understand how close to the edge all of this is driving the profession.

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  • As a patient, it is nice to know there are still doctors around like Michael Dixon. not just the "anonymous" Pulse commenters who dare not speak their names.

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  • Why a named clinician???.If lack of immediate careand assistance at home are causing us "horrible" gps to "dump" old folks into a and e in an attempt to get them some in hospital--some chance!!!!--Why not a named social worker instead??? who can spend as much time as necessary to fine some of this elusive care in the community.I don`t know of many colleagues who would not try to treat at home if this was available.My duty of care simply does not let me leave them at home ti their own devices.

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  • Its called a personalised list system. Used to be the norm until most PCT's thought it should be scrapped. we fought tooth and nail to keep it and our patients reap the rewards.

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