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National QIPP lead quits and warns of hospital ’emphasis’ on NHS board

Sir John Oldham, head of the Department of Health's QIPP programme, has decided not to take up a position at the NHS Commissioning Board, and warned of the need for the board to sign up leading GPs to balance its current secondary care ‘emphasis'.

Sir John will step down ‘towards the end of the year' from his role as national clinical lead for quality and productivity, saying he believed his efforts would be better focused on helping GP practices adapt to the new world as providers than in taking up a commissioning position with the board.

He said it would be ‘inappropriate' to comment on the likely performance of the NHS Commissioning Board, but urged it to sign up some ‘strong, established voices in primary care' to balance the large number of hospital specialisms gaining an input.

During his time as QIPP lead, Sir John has pushed a three-step model of risk assessment, self-care and coordinated multidisciplinary team working, which he said was now being implemented by CCGs covering 35 million people.

But he said that going forward, the NHS Commissioning Board needed a stronger primary care voice than had been the case ‘in the past'.

‘It will be important for the NHS Commissioning Board to get input from strong, established voices in primary care to balance the strong emphasis that comes from having such a variety of specialist input, with a background in secondary care.'

‘I think it's important that the board widens its input from a variety of backgrounds, rather than the triangular hierarchy that has gone on in the past. I'm sure it will do that.'

Sir John said he planned to work with Lord Darzi on an international conference to help the cash-strapped NHS learn from developing countries delivering healthcare under financial constraints, and added there was lots of untapped knowledge among GPs across the UK.

‘We tend to focus on the hierarchy and top end of organisations and not sufficiently on the grassroots,' he said.