Dr Charles Alessi has the ear of ministers and a back-door pass to NHS England, but that does not mean he is in their pockets.
‘General practice needs renewing and reinvigorating and I hope we have started on that journey,’ he says. ‘We have been very consistent with NHS England with our message that it is time to stop bashing primary care and fiddling with the contractual process.’
As a former chair, and now a senior adviser to NHS Clinical Commissioners, his ideas can sometimes sound divorced from those of grassroots GPs, with his recent suggestion that that GP contract should be held by local authorities and his loud support for co-commissioning of primary care by CCGs and area teams.
But Dr Alessi, who is also chair of the National Association for Primary Care, hopes his influence can prevail. He says: ‘General practice will be the place to go to soon, not the place to leave.’
Dr Alessi has had a busy year, merging the NAPC – of which he is chair – with the NHS Confederation and he says that he learns the most by listening to the ‘raw messages’ of people’s first-hand experience and says there is a large disconnect between what health services provide and what people need and want.
In his spare time, Dr Alessi can be found ‘close to some opera house somewhere’. He is also a senior advisor to Public Health England and the lead for preventable dementia.