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15. Dr Mark Sanford-Wood

15. Dr Mark Sanford-Wood

The BMA’s GP Committee’s second in command has an unenviable task on his to-do list this year – ‘just the small issue of delivering a profession-wide, fully functioning indemnity scheme by April’, he says.

He’s made a good start. He says his professional highlight of the past year was leading on successful negotiations with the Department of Health for the long called-for state-backed scheme. He says it was ‘the only lasting solution’ to the years of crippling indemnity increases, especially with potential changes to the size of compensation payouts through the discount rate.

But he’ll have a tough job keeping the Government on track. Indeed, the plans may already be behind schedule, as the Government was unable to update GPs with details on the indemnity solution by its own May deadline. But perhaps it will be worth the wait – Dr Sanford-Wood is well aware of the heft of his responsibility in helping to devise the scheme. ‘Ultimately, when I am long gone, that may prove to be my lasting achievement’, he says.

That may be so, but he has also had a hand in negotiating what have been described as the most significant changes to the GP contract since 2004.

Set to include changes to the partnership model and a wide-ranging overhaul of QOF, the changes also alter the GP funding model to ensure that the financial distribution is equitable between ‘digital-first practices’ – such as Babylon’s ‘GP at Hand’ model – and other traditional practices.

It’s an effort to quell GP fears that such practices are destabilising the profession by ‘cherry-picking’ healthy and young patients.

In addition to his national endeavours, Dr Sanford-Wood still finds time to advocate for GPs on a local level as medical secretary for Devon LMC, and isstill a salaried GP in the area and a locum at HMP Exeter.

In April, Dr Sanford-Wood warned that general practice in Plymouth was ‘on the edge of viability’ as a fifth of practices had either closed or handed back their contract in the past three years, leaving 34,000 patients without a fixed GP.

Why influential:

The future of GP indemnity is in his hands

What he says:

‘Being appointed deputy chair of the BMA’s GP Committee has been the greatest professional honour of my career’

Random fact:

Claims to have the honour of being the only Englishman to have scored a try whenever he played for Bridgend.