It says a lot about NHS chief executive Simon Stevens that he has appointed someone like Sir Sam Everington as a chief adviser on the Five-Year Forward View.
Sir Sam has been a professional disrupter for several decades. Putting him at the centre of his plan to secure the future of the NHS shows Mr Stevens is interested in radical change.
And that is what is emerging from the ‘vanguard’ projects – as they have been dubbed by NHS England – with moves to pool GP, community and – potentially also secondary care – budgets.
This will have revolutionary implications for the whole structure of the NHS in England – so it is a reassuring sign to see a GP of the calibre of Sir Sam involved. However, there is a lot to do to convince some GPs that the changes will be good for general practice.
Sir Sam is also vice-chair of the BMA and was knighted in February for services to primary care. He was the man who slept outside the Royal London Hospital in the 1980s to highlight doctors’ long working hours and helped uncover outrageous levels of racial discrimination in the medical profession in the 1990s.
Now he is leading one of the most radical CCGs in the country – NHS Tower Hamlets – and has been showing the way to support practices drastically affected by the MPIG withdrawal. Those nominating him for the Power 50 cited his protection of the ‘value and values’ of general practice as a reason that he should be included in the list.
This coming year, Sir Sam says that he will be supporting the vanguards ‘who are developing some amazing innovations across the country’ and working on promoting ‘social prescribing’ at his innovative Bromley by Bow Centre.
He says: ‘We are running courses every month for people all across the UK. There is great interest in how we have connected primary care with the voluntary and social sectors in Tower Hamlets, addressing patients’ social determinants of health.’
However, his favourite moment of the year was more personal: ‘My highlight was getting married at the Bromley by Bow health centre with a jazz band wedding parade through the streets.’
His motto is ‘assume it is possible’ – let’s hope it is.