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What happened when a group of GPs went to Downing Street

On 2 March, a group of eight GPs as well as myself and Dr Nav Chana from the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) visited 10 Downing Street to talk to David Cameron’s senior health policy advisor about the new models of primary care we’ve been developing.

The visiting party was described as primary care Jedi Knights

Our practice, Beacon Medical Group, was chosen to be a rapid test site for the NAPC’s Primary Care Home model, along with 14 other sites at the end of last year. The Primary Care Home model is designed to test and develop new models of primary care provision in line with the Five Year Forward View road map. Beacon Medical Group was formed in 2014 with the merger of three practices forming a single partnership of 33,000 patients. We have an established reputation for innovation and developing new services so applying to be a rapid test site for the Primary Care Home model was a natural progression.

We have an ambitious project programme which will see us working more closely with our communities to address three main themes, including tackling the unmet social and psychological needs that drive health activity. We will also improve the range of services that are available to our communities closer to home, and will also improve young people’s access to healthcare.

We had been invited to Number 10 to share our project plans with the Prime Minister’s senior health policy advisor.

Once we had negotiated the stringent security, which was very similar to that at any airport these days, we were excited to be escorted through the famous black door. We were relieved of all of our electronic items and shown into a waiting room. Our host then showed us into a large meeting room for our hour-long meeting. Downing Street was nothing like what is portrayed in films; it was business-like and down to earth, as was the health advisor that we met.

The meeting was very positive, it was a privilege for all the sites represented to showcase their project plans. I think there was genuine respect shown for the progress made to date, and ambition demonstrated across all of the pilots.

I feel we represented primary care well, showing that there is an appetite and enthusiasm for innovation and change to better meet the needs of our communities. We are hoping that our request for support and resources to help bring these projects to life will be met. The visiting party was described by the health policy advisor as representing a group of passionate innovators, or primary care Jedi Knights.

Dr Jonathan Cope is a GP in Plymouth