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Singlehander presented with quality award by Alan Johnson. Shurely Shome Mishtake?

A singlehanded GP was more shocked than most at Alan Johnson’s recent claim that some single-handed practices ‘don’t even reach 1948 standards’ - as he's just been presented with a quality award by the Health Secretary.

By Steve Nowottny

A singlehanded GP was more shocked than most at Alan Johnson's recent claim that some single-handed practices ‘don't even reach 1948 standards' - as he's just been presented with a quality award by the Health Secretary.

Dr Patrick Craig-McFeely's practice in Wiltshire - which he runs as a job share with his wife Dr Sally Hayes, has consistently scored highly against quality indicators, and in October won a national Diabetes QOF Award.

And not only was Mr Johnson aware of the high standards of care at this single-handed practice – as our photo shows, he was there in person at the NHS Alliance conference in Bournemouth to present the award.



Dr Craig-McFeely said: ‘I disagree with Alan Johnson, I think it's a very metropolitan view. I don't know that he's been out in the countryside and seen what's going on in these small communities with their small practices which are very integrated into the community.

‘My patients call Patrick or if they're formal I'm Dr Patrick. We know each other all very well. Satisfaction ratings here are very high.'

Other GPs were also quick to rise to the defence of single-handed practices.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman – himself a single-handed GP in Finchley, north London, said: ‘It's a very cheap thing to say. If you're going to say that kind of thing and attack a large number of doctors, you ought to have some evidence to back that up.'

And Dr Jonathan Mair, a single-hander in Sunderland, said he found Mr Johnson's comments ‘frankly defamatory.'

‘I know it's all part of the Government crusade against small practices and GPs in general, but he should be challenged to back up those remarks with hard evidence – or apologise.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The Government has made clear that small and single-handed practices form an important part of primary care.'

‘The number of single-handed GPs has gradually declined. This is partly due to GPs valuing working with colleagues to reduce professional isolation and share the workload to deliver high quality primary medical care to patients.'

Alan Johnson presents a national Diabetes QOF Award to single-handed GP Dr Patrick Craig-McFeely and his job-sharing wife Dr Sally Hayes in October Alan Johnson

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