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Commissioning board chair makes GPs ‘playing golf’ jibe

The head of the NHS Commissioning Board has hit out at GPs for being ‘out playing golf’ rather than treating patients, as he called for a ‘profound cultural change’ across the NHS.

Speaking at the NICE conference in Birmingham yesterday, Professor Malcolm Grant said the NHS was undergoing far-reaching changes that required all its component parts to work together more closely to ensure services are designed around patients.

He said that there would be ‘immense pressure’ on the NHS, and warned more sophisticated thinking was needed to reduce GP referrals and reconfigure secondary care services.

‘Do not underestimate what a huge structural change this is,’ he said.

Professor Grant told the story of a woman whose cost to the NHS had been cut from £9,000 to £6,000 because of better organised care.

He claimed her GP ‘was out playing golf’, but was now making regular visits, reducing the cost of care.

But Sir John Oldham, the GP heading up the Department of Health’s QIPP programme, and a candidate for RCGP president, hit back on the social network site Twitter.

He wrote: ‘Malcolm Grant jibe about GPs spending too much time on golf course – he should get out of [his] London hospital more.’

Professor Grant also revealed the board would employ around 3,600 people centrally and around the country, and most of these would be current SHA and PCT staff. ‘We have got to change the wheel of the bicycle as we go downhill,’ he admitted.

Speaking about the risks of the change, he said that they were great, but that change was achievable: ‘I have seen page after page of bright red. That is the change that we are going through.’

He also said that while some CCGs would find the transition ‘more challenging’, he expected all of them to be authorised by next April.