Going toe to toe with a health secretary intent on driving through perhaps the most controversial changes to the NHS since its birth would be a hard enough job at the best of times.
But Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the GPC, has had to do it at the same time as attempting to stop civil war breaking out in his own ranks.
Dr Buckman, a GP in Finchley, north London, has been a busy man, attempting to squeeze some extra cash out of the Treasury to cover soaring GP expenses, successfully holding together the UK-wide contract even as the devolved nations go their separate ways on health policy, and helping steer the BMA’s controversial policy of ‘critical engagement’ with the Government over the health bill.
Known as a pugnacious leader, Dr Buckman’s approach to the NHS reforms has been more muted – leading one panel member to wonder if he had lost his bite, but others to commend him for his support for the principle of GP commissioning.
Still, he has fought the threat of privatisation, attacked ‘unethical’ elements of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s vision, and managed to keep the GPC more united than the wider BMA. If Dr Buckman is able to win serious concessions while carving out an influential new role for GPs, he will have proved a more subtle negotiator than some had imagined.
Dr Buckman said: ‘I’d like to persuade the Government it does not have to enlarge the market in healthcare and that clinically led commissioning can proceed without it. Any willing provider is a mistake and will be a noose around the neck of the NHS.’
‘I would also like it to reconsider its plan to close deaneries, which will shut down medical education in England.’
Watch Dr Buckman accept his position in the Top 50