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PBC Postcard: Dr David Shovlin

Chair of West Northumberland Practice-Based Commissioning Group

• I became chair of our PBC consortium because I was the last person standing after everyone else had stepped back!

• If I wasn't chair I would have much more time to spend with my family and walk our three dogs in the Northumberland countryside.

• I spend a lot of hours thinking about how local health services could be improved. I am paid for some of those hours.

• Still learning is the phrase that sums up our PCT's attitude to PBC.

• Generally enthusiastic is the phrase that sums up local GPs' attitude to PBC.

• Supportive and willing to engage was the initial attitude of our local acute trust – consultants and managers have been keen to work together with primary care.

Our greatest achievement as a consortium is our work with end-of-life care. We have developed a whole-systems approach to the care of dying patients and have worked with patients and other care providers to iron out any obstacles and deliver care according to patients' wishes.

My greatest achievement has been taking West Northumberland to the finals of the PBC Vision Awards at the NAPC annual conference last year.

The most frustrating thing about PBC is the bureaucracy and time taken to implement obvious, simple improvements.

The biggest threat to PBC's success is apathy within primary care nationwide.

I am optimistic that PBC will lead to better partnership working in the NHS, increased efficiency and improvements to services for patients.

PBC would be transformed overnight if PBC groups were given control of real – and realistic – commissioning budgets.

In five years' time PBC will either be dead in the water or leading commissioning in the NHS.

In five years' time I will probably still be trying to work out how this year's PBC budgets were set!

Dr David Shovlin Dr David Shovlin