The outspoken chair of the National Association of Primary Care, Dr Charles Alessi is a hugely influential figure to whom ministers pay attention.
Many Government proposals over the past few years could be said to have their roots in his organisation’s ideas, and Dr Alessi says it is to his great satisfaction that ‘the things we’ve been talking about for a long time at the NAPC are starting to be listened to’.
As interim chair of the new NHS Clinical Commissioners body, Dr Alessi represents the voice of CCGs have has been personally involved in the plans for caring for vulnerable older patients – jointly chairing a key roundtable that influenced the health secretary and, controversially, excluded the GPC.
So how do his peers see him? One response sums it up: ‘I may not always agree with him but he is a powerful voice in GP-land.’
For instance, unlike many in the profession he welcomes the plans for a ‘named GP’ for the elderly: ‘The named clinician is essentially what general practice should be all about, which is a sense of community and ensuring population health.’
He echoes the health secretary’s call for a reduction in box-ticking to help GPs achieve this, saying that a lot of bureaucracy from general practice – including parts of the QOF – will have to be removed. ‘We have been encouraging a decluttering of primary care so that GPs can deliver this,’ he says.
However, Dr Alessi does not always agree with the Government. He has been a big defender of PMS practices who have had a hard time recently at the hands of NHS managers seeking easy savings and he admits that his biggest disappointment is the continued lack of proportionate investment in general practice.
But he emphases that considering the scale of change wrought by the NHS reforms, GPs have come out ‘pretty well’, and although the health service is ‘not out of the woods yet’, he is optimistic CCGs can deliver.
‘We still have all those reconfigurations ahead of us, and there are going to be a very good many of those,’ he says.