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GP leader: ‘All practices will be part of polysystems’

By Gareth Iacobucci

A GP leader has predicted that all GPs will eventually be forced to work in polysystems, as NHS bosses scramble to make huge savings by shifting greater volumes of work into primary care.

The forecast from Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, came on the eve of the BMA's crisis rally of doctors – called in protest against dramatic cuts proposed by NHS managers in the capital.

The meeting, which takes place tonight at BMA headquarters in Central London, is aiming to co-ordinate protests at controversial proposals that include closing hospitals, shifting large volumes of work to primary care, and reducing the length of GP consultations by a third.

It comes just days after Pulse revealed that NHS managers across England plan to dramatically ramp up the shift of work from hospitals to primary care, with plans for GPs to take on new services as part of London-style ‘polysystems'.

Dr Drage said it was imperative that GPs engaged with the agenda, to try and retain control over how they deliver services.

She warned that if GPs ‘buried their heads in the sand', this could open the door for foundation and acute trusts to come in and run primary care in the future, which would threaten the traditional model of general practice.

‘There is a culture change,' said Dr Drage. ‘Money has to be saved, hospitals have to be closed. It needs to be cheaper, and it needs to be integrated with primary care. Every PCT needs to have one.

‘All practices will be expected to be part of polysystems eventually.'

She added: ‘The risk to GPs is vertical integration, the opportunities are very few. The only way to do this is to pull together, federate and be in control of the polysystem agenda.'

Dr Drage revealed that Londonwide LMCs would be hosting a conference on May 18 to help GPs stay on top of the proposals.

‘We're planning a big conference which will include practical advice on how to get networks and federations going at practice level and retain control.

‘We're helping GPs understand what the agenda is.'

Dr Michelle Drage