This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

Gold, incentives and meh

The top 20 most influential GPs in 2009

We asked a panel of more than a dozen leading GPs from across the profession to predict who would do most to shape general practice in the coming year. Here is their verdict.

We asked a panel of more than a dozen leading GPs from across the profession to predict who would do most to shape general practice in the coming year. Here is their verdict.

The GPs set to have the greatest impact on the profession this year

1 Professor Steve Field

As chair of the largest medical royal college in the UK, Professor Steve Field has a difficult political juggling act – forming a close working relationship with the Department of Health while remaining a strong voice for the profession. Since taking on the role in November 2007, he has pressed ministers to engage with general practice over health service reform, while challenging colleagues to take up leadership opportunities. He has retained a part-time role as postgraduate dean for the NHS West Midlands workforce deanery, is honorary professor of medical education at the University of Warwick and still squeezes in sessions as a GP.

What is in his in-tray

Professor Field will oversee the RCGP's practice accreditation scheme, to be rolled out nationally this year, and will have to work closely with the Care Quality Commission to secure a system of assessment that is professionally led, rather than imposed on GPs. He is also charged with laying the groundwork for introduction of recertification in 2010, again having to satisfy an external body – the GMC – without overburdening GPs. And he will be kept busy ensuring Lord Darzi's plan to revitalise clinical leadership becomes reality.

What he says

‘The key priorities are around quality – revalidation, practice accreditation and influencing where the QOF is going. We've been lobbying Darzi and the DH that every PCT should have a medical director who's a GP and we're trying to encourage GPs to start driving the agenda. My job is to challenge GPs to lead.'

2 Dr Laurence Buckman

In his first full year in the hot seat, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman was a tireless, outspoken and at times strident voice for general practice, drumming up public support for the BMA's campaign against imposition of polyclinics and private provision. He has for months been locked in negotiations with the DH and NHS Employers, trying to ease the pain of the ending of the MPIG and prevent GPs getting too much extra work for too little money. Signs of a more conciliatory Dr Buckman may not last long if GP leaders find themselves on the wrong end of Government dirty tricks again.

What is in his in-tray

Dr Buckman's powers of persuasion will get their first test of the year next month, with the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body set to release its recommendation on GPs' pay. He will also play a central role in negotiations over the QOF, and on a long-term deal for uplifts in different areas of the contract. But perhaps Dr Buckman's toughest job will be to restore GPs' morale – he is already fighting plans for practice rankings.

What he says

‘I hope for a year where the Government will make an effort to engage with the profession rather than running the NHS on a series of whims. My priority will be to help the Government see that its hostility to GPs won't make things better, while getting practices to raise their game, so that not only will patients get the best service possible but also officials will have no excuse to have a go.'

3 Dr David Colin-Thome

The Government's primary care tsar since May 2001, Dr David Colin-Thome's experience is considered a big asset to the DH as he juggles several roles – including medical adviser for the commissioning and system management directorate and clinical lead for the 18 weeks programme. He was a GP in Runcorn, but retired in 2007.

What is in his in-tray

A jack of all trades, Dr Colin-Thome chairs a number of key committees. He will have a big role in implementing the Darzi recommendations and reviving practice-based commissioning. But his biggest job will be to keep selling Government policy to the profession. If last year is anything to go by – he accused the BMA of ‘hysteria' and GPs of a ‘victim mentality' – he may be less than conciliatory.

What he says

‘The recent DH primary care strategy offers us an even more extended role and influential position but the deal will always be with accompanying accountability. Are we up to it?'






4 Dr Iona Heath

Described by one of our panel as an ‘all-time great', Dr Iona Heath is best known for her regular column in the BMJ, where she is a fearless critic of Government health reforms. For more than 30 years Dr Heath has been working at a practice in one of the most deprived areas of London and holds a place on the WONCA World council of general practice until 2010.

What is in her in-tray

This year Dr Heath plans to use her column to rail against disease-mongering by the DH and the industrialisation of primary care. In her role as chair of the RCGP International Committee, she will be helping young British GPs to meet and learn from their European colleagues.

What she says

‘The big challenge this year is to hold on to what is good about general practice. There is a real pressure to get bigger, have fewer partners and exploit young doctors – we must resist the pressures to turn general practice from a cottage industry to something more industrial.'

5 Dr Beth McCarron-Nash

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash established herself as the profession's rising star in 2008 after spearheading the BMA's hugely successful Support Your Surgery campaign – which collected 1.2 million patient signatures. Shortly afterwards, she was elected as the GPC's sole female negotiator, and the youngest on the negotiating team. She practises as a GP in Honiton, Devon.

What is in her in-tray

Dr McCarron-Nash seems destined for a key role in directing the GPC's PR efforts, even if its campaign is currently on ice. She's also been handed potentially controversial portfolios on education and sessional GPs.

6 Professor Martin Roland

Professor Martin Roland is director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre and one of the UK's most influential experts on health services research. Widely credited as one of the two co-architects of the QOF, he has a vast array of professional interests, but avoids ivory-tower accusations by continuing to practise in central Manchester. His in-tray includes evaluating Government plans for integrated care organisations, and his centre will analyse the new GP patient survey.

7 Dr Hamish Meldrum

Since being elected chair of BMA council in June 2007, Dr Hamish Meldrum – former GPC chair – has taken a step back from general practice to focus on wider medical issues. But he remains hugely influential in the profession. Top of his to-do list must be steering the BMA's rocky relationship with the Government to safer ground, particularly after the high-profile Support Your Surgery campaign.

8 Professor Helen Lester

A respected expert in mental health, Professor Helen Lester is deputy director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre. She was co-lead of the expert panel that reviewed the evidence for indicators included in the QOF and is strongly tipped for a similar role in NICE's review of the framework this year.

9 Dr Clare Gerada

Dr Clare Gerada is a GP in south London, vice-chair of the RCGP and until recently an adviser to the DH on substance misuse. This year she is set to take a lead in protecting working conditions for salaried doctors and helping the development of

GPSI services in the wake of plans for their accreditation.

10 Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Dr Chaand Nagpaul's importance as a political figure keeps growing. He has not hidden his distaste for the Government's courting of the private sector and is in a position to combat the policy as GPC negotiator with responsibility for commissioning. He also has negotiating responsibility for IT, handing him a key role in discussions over the care record rollout and secondary uses of data.

11 Dr Richard Vautrey

Deputy chair of the GPC. More considered and less outspoken than his boss, which may help in his key role leading on negotiations over the QOF.

12 Dr Michael Dixon

Intimately involved in plans to revitalise practice-based commissioning, in his role as chair of the NHS Alliance. Also director of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health.

13 Dr Ian Rutter

Director of Primary Health Properties, the UK's leading private sector provider of modern primary care facilities, and clinical advisor to the DH's policy and strategy unit.

14 Professor Mike Pringle

Professor of general practice at the University of Nottingham and council member of the RCGP, for whom he will lead on plans for recertification.

15 Professor David Fitzmaurice

A powerful voice for improvements in cardiovascular care in his role as professor of primary care research at the University of Birmingham.

16 Dr Colin Hunter

A Scottish GP and honorary treasurer of the RCGP, he will be closely involved with plans to roll out recertification.

17 Professor David Haslam

President of the RCGP and recently appointed chair of the NHS evidence advisory committee by NICE.

18 Professor Trisha Greenhalgh

Professor of primary health care at University College London, and leading the independent evaluation of the Summary Care Record.

19 Professor Richard Hobbs

Head of primary care and general practice at the University of Birmingham and co-chair of the panel of academic experts reviewing QOF indicators.

20 Dr Gillian Braunold

Driving IT development as clinical director for the Summary Care Record and Healthspace.

Professor Steve Field, RCGP chair of council Professor Steve Field, RCGP chair of council Dr David Colin-Thome, primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome, primary care tsar Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC negotiator Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of RCGP Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of RCGP Dr Iona Heath Dr Iona Heath Our panel

The 13 GPs who helped compile the lists were:
Dr Fay Wilson
Professor Mike Kirby
Dr James Kingsland
Dr Clare Gerada
Professor David Haslam
Dr Kailash Chand
Dr Kathryn Griffith
Dr Gillian Braunold
Dr Michael Dixon
Professor Helen Lester
Professor Mike Pringle
Professor Debbie Sharp
Professor Roger Jones

Where will new GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash feature?

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say