‘If Carlsberg made LMCs, it would be Wessex LMC,’ is how one admirer on our panel put it. Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMC since 2004, has built up an active, thriving organization representing more than 3,000 GPs, and commands huge respect among other medical politicians for his work at a grassroots level.
As another of his peers put it simply: ‘He runs the best LMC in the country.’
Dr Watson is also a long-standing member of the GPC, and has been talked of as possible future leader of the profession. He heads up the GPC’s commissioning and service development subcommittee – and it is his active involvement in GP commissioning that pushes him so high up our list.
Involved at a local level as one of 12 members of the Wessex Clinical Senate Council, Dr Watson also represents the GPC on NHS England’s GP strategic commissioning group. He acts as an effective ‘bridge between the GPC and commissioners’, our panel said – and he was even praised as ‘the only “representative” GP who appears to have influence in the core function of GP commissioning’.
Dr Watson says: ‘I believe the big challenge is to make general practice sustainable for the future. And to retain the essential function it has in the NHS, we need to change. This will be difficult for some, but most are finding life increasingly difficult now – so the achievement will be to work with CCGs, area teams and GPs to develop general practice so that it is able to deliver high quality care, with a motivated and supported workforce.’
‘We can’t afford to fail – with older GPs who are increasingly disillusioned and are looking to get out and the difficulty in recruiting younger GPs, if general practice fails the rest of the NHS has no chance.’