A Government loyalist, the chair of Conservative Health is known to have the ear of Andrew Lansley and continues to wield significant influence in political circles.
Despite the titanic backlash the Government faced from the profession over the Health and Social Care Act, Dr Charlson says he is heartened to see GPs embracing their new commissioning role despite any reservations they might have had.
‘People are trying to make things work and have just got on with things, and that shows a level of gumption and dedication to patients and the NHS,’ he says.
But despite his positivity, the East Yorkshire sessional GP, who also works as a GPSI in dermatology, is under no illusions about the scale of the task facing CCGs.
‘Trying to make really significant changes to services that will help the NHS be more efficient in this very difficult time when budgets are so tight will not be easy,’ he says.
What is needed, he believes, is for GPs to make ‘brave’ decisions: ‘When it comes to public services, people are frightened to make decisions in case they are the wrong decisions. But to make real changes, you have to take some risks.’