The partnership model has been failing to attract recruits for some time and Dr Nigel Watson was the GP tasked with reversing the situation.
As chair of the Government’s independent review, his recommendations, published in January, have been reflected in policy changes.
That review backed the formation of networks – confirmed a few weeks later as part of the new five-year GP contract in England.
The report also called for extended access funding to be channelled through networks – another change brought in as part of the contract – so that demand can be managed ‘appropriately’ and GPs are not lured away from core work.
Meanwhile the review warned the ‘last partner standing’ scenario – in which a single GP is left personally liable for the lease of a property – was putting off GPs from partnership and called for property ownership to be separated.
NHS England has since said it will consider ‘relieving GPs’ of the worry of estate liabilities and instead bear most of the costs itself.
While the review itself may not have delivered any wildly radical solutions, the proposals are certainly aligned with existing Government thinking – meaning they look set to stick.
Dr Watson is also chief executive of Wessex LMC, representing over 3,000 GPs. Like so many across the UK, the LMC has been dealing with GP recruitment problems. One of its solutions has been to set up a programme that sees GPs who were intending on leaving or retiring – because they no longer wanted to be a partner – instead being ‘parachuted’ into another practice to help tackle problems.
Why influential: Came up with solutions to the GP partnership crisis
What others say: ‘Supporter and inspirer of primary care in stressful times’
Random fact: Is course director and board member at Barton-on-Sea Golf Club