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2011 – a year to remember, or regret?

GP leaders look into the future and make their predictions for the next 12 months

‘Make sure you are providing the best service you possibly can’

Prediction: ‘The Government’s big things on the agenda are going to be commissioning in England. I think some of the other countries are looking at commissioning as well. Obviously not with a market but you don’t need a market to commission. I understand all the countries are interested but not with a market. It could work in a similar way but not the same way to England because there’s no market. There certainly will not be any willing provider. They might look at giving GPs a bigger role. The other big thing on the agenda this year is boundary-less practice.’

Overall: Make sure you are providing the best service you possibly can, so that in an era of competition you are not unfairly competed against by others who are viewed by some in a more favourable light than NHS GPs. That is a huge thing. Rather than private companies rivalling GPs, it’s the whole thing about competing and spending your energy marketing yourself rather than delivering healthcare.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair

‘Despite the gloominess, we can make life better for ourselves and our patients’

Prediction: ‘I think we will end up stronger at the end of 2011 then we were at the end of 2010. This is because of involvement in GP commissioning, which will lead to a better environment for GPs. More control over funding will reduce the amount of unnecessary bureaucracy we have to work with because will be in direct control and common sense will be back in the system. Despite the gloominess of the rest of the country, despite the funding cuts and despite incomes remaining the same, I think that if we can make life better on a day to day basis, for ourselves and our patients then that will put us in a stronger position.’

One to watch: ‘I think the person who will make the biggest impact is the secretary of state. If he sticks by his word and sticks by his guns and doesn’t get distracted by all the other ideas, I think he’ll deliver what we need. I think he actually he does have sense of GPs which we’ve not seen for a long time, something which the previous administration never had.’

Overall: ‘I think it will be tough year but then society as a whole is having to a tough time and I think that if we can make our working days simpler and less badgered by bureaucracy and bureaucrats, then I think we’ll see an improvement. All of that added together means that it’ll be better. Better times ahead!’

Michelle Drage, chief executive Londonwide LMCs

‘We were previously appendages and we’re now absolutely mainstream’

Prediction: ‘It’s going to be a year where there is the biggest change in general practice since the NHS was formed in 1948. Not just being responsible for that ten minutes in the consulting room but being responsible for all those hours outside where they’ll be affecting their own health from the things that they do, or environments, or maybe services elsewhere. And I think that gives practioners an extraordinary central role in the NHS you could say that we were previously appendages of it we’re now absolutely mainstream leading it from the middle.’

One to watch: ‘I think Andrew Lansley is going to be a key person. There is one person leading this very firmly from the front and I think he is absolutely key. Possibly the other person is the Prime Minister. Will he continue to support him? I hope he will. The two other players are Barbara Hakin, who is very much behind him and leading the change and the most recent addition is Gale Richards who leading the implementation of GP consortia.’

Overall: ‘ I think it will be seen as enormously important year and one which we’re not going to be able to go back on because once that bill has gone through in the next two weeks, there’s no going back. Things will have changed whether people want them or not.’

Dr Michael Dixon, chair NHS Alliance

‘There will be much forming and storming going on as people develop relationships’

Prediction: ‘I think it is going to be a stormy year in the sense that there is a lot of forming and storming going on as people are developing relationships between GPs, between GPs and consultants, between healthcare and social care and local authority. I think there is going to be a lot of forming and storming in terms of relationships. I think that’s is going to be a feel of the year, I think it feels that is what is going to be happening.’

One to watch: ‘I guess the one to watch is whether the frontline staff really do end up do end up having a proper voice and how all of the changes are delivered locally. Look out for whether we actually finally get the grassroots commissioners engaged in this service redesign and feeling like they are own and part of this process going forward.’

Overall: ‘It’ll be a forming relationships kind of year. There’ll be parts of those relationships that are really positive and really good and they’ll be parts that are challenging and tough. If we don’t have some tough times to get through as well, it’d be hollow. They’ll be some good bits that are really good and some tough bits. I think it will be a mixture, a mixed bag.’

Dr Jonny Marshall, NAPC chair

‘I think it’s going to be blinding year for GPs, it’s going to be one of our best ever.

Prediction: ‘The majority of GP led commissioning consortia will reject private sector helping commissioning and will choose the best of the existing PCT managers. I don’t know whether that’s a prediction or just a hope. Best present existing PCT managers it doesn’t give them a very big field to choose from. There are some good managers in PCTs but boy are there some bad ones.’

One to watch: ‘Dr Clare Gerada. She is quite different from her predecessor Professor Steve Field and she has an inclination to speak her mind very frankly, on behalf of her members. I’m not one of her members but she has an inclination to speak her mind very frankly, which I think is a very positive way of doing business. The person with the most difficult job of the year is Dr Hamish Meldrum, in trying to reconcile a largely hostile consultants body and junior doctor body with the concept of GP-led commissioning consortia and the abolition of the requirement to use tariffs.’

Overall: ‘I think it’s going to be blinding year for GPs, it’s going to be one of our best ever. I’ve definitely got the half full cup in general and I think it has the potential to be an extraordinarily good year for GPs. And a time when we can actually start to get rid of some of the nonsense’s that have claimed the health service and plan for providing patients with the best possible service within the budgetary constrains.’

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of Family Doctor Association

‘There will be a potential diminution in the star quality of Andrew Lansley’

Prediction: ‘There is going to be concern with the incredible speed that the changes are going to be bought into the NHS. As a result of that, towards the middle of the year, as we build up to the BMA annual meeting in July in Cardiff, I think there will be a lot of people thinking, I don’t think this white paper is what at the onset we thought it was.’

One to watch: ‘The biggest influence at the present time is of course is Lansley himself but I do wonder whether there will be a change as far as his illuminating star is concerned. I feel it will become very potentially dimmer as the year progresses. Dr Laurence Buckman is doing a really super job, leading general practice, he works very well with the college. I think Dr Clare Gerada, in combination with Dr Laurence Buckman, will have quite a dramatic influence on general practice over the next 12 months along with a potential diminution in the star quality of Andrew Lansley.’

Overall: ‘ I think it’s going to be a tough year in general practice. Who do people always turn to when things start to go wrong? Inevitably it’s their GP. I think it’s going to be a very interesting meeting of the professions in Cardiff and also a very interesting LMC conference when it comes, because at that at point we’ll see how commissioning is going. We’ll more than likely have a new contract at that time. It’s going to be a really interesting year. Workload wise I think its going to be kind of tough but general practice always rise to it.’

Dr George Rae, GPC member

Dr Laurence Buckman