Professor David Haslam is one of those rare medico-political grandees that GPs still regard as ‘one of them’.
He has been president of the BMA, RCGP chair and an adviser to the CQC – not to mention chair of this year’s Pulse Live event – but according to colleagues he is ‘still applying the principles of good family doctoring’ in his various senior roles.
He recently became the first GP chair of NICE, taking over from Professor Sir Michael Rawlins who had led the organisation since its creation in 1999.
He has already promised to ensure that NICE’s advice is more relevant to general practice, and to make progress on ensuring guidance addresses patients with multiple conditions. He has a difficult job; NICE continues to rub GPs up the wrong way, as demonstrated by its recent advice to stop routinuely using paracetamol in patients with osteoarthritis. But as one of his GP colleagues puts it: ‘As chair of NICE he has an opportunity to ensure sense prevails – as David usually does.’
Professor Haslam has also stressed the importance of continuity of care being at the heart of general practice – and urged younger GPs to take care of themselves.
He says: ‘Be proud of being GPs. It’s a remarkable job with near infinite possibilities, but you have to look after yourself to avoid burnout.’
Professor Haslam has risen to the top of his profession after spending 35 years as a GP at the Ramsey Health Centre in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, before retiring from active practice in 2011.
He received the CBE in 2004 for services to medicine and healthcare, but his feet remain firmly on the ground. ‘Walking the dog, or mowing the lawn whilst listening to Test Match Special or the Kermode/Mayo Film podcast’ are the pleasures that keep him sane.