Professor Roland has been one of the leading lights in GP academia for years, but this year he was nominated chiefly for chairing a landmark review of the primary care workforce.
Professor of health services research at the University of Cambridge, Professor Roland was one of the architects of the QOF and has been involved in running the GP Patient Survey for years.
As such, he was the perfect choice to chair a review that health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised would be an ‘independent study’ on what GPs were required ‘area by area’.
But unfortunately it was not that simple. Professor Roland subsequently told Pulse that he had been told not to focus on GP staffing levels after discussions between the Department of Health and Health Education England.
So although the resulting report made a ‘note’ of the Government’s commitment to recruit 5,000 new GPs, it bizarrely made no concrete recommendations on GP numbers at all, inevitably drawing criticism.
Having said that, the report itself bore all the hallmarks of Professor Roland’s good sense, recommending practices consider employing physician associates and pharmacists. It also suggests trials of medical admin assistants to do paperwork and paramedics to assess home visits.
Professor Roland says chairing the commission gave him ‘an opportunity to think how general practice can get out of its present crisis into a situation where doctors, nurses and pharmacists not only provide high-quality care, but also have satisfying and sustainable careers’.
The publication of the report has not signalled an end to the work, he tells Pulse: ‘The next task is to see that as many of our recommendations get into practice as possible. In particular, the Government needs to recognise the longstanding disinvestment in primary care compared with investment in hospitals.’