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Please Mr Hancock, take some time to understand general practice



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I’m trying so hard not to be that editor who jumps on the health secretary for the sole reason they are health secretary. Let’s face it – it is a thankless task. They have an NHS screaming out for desperately needed money on the one hand, and a Treasury screaming out for them to not have any money on the other.

And in the case of Matt Hancock, he was parachuted into the role as a result of the political crisis caused by Brexit. That he has no background in health whatsoever is hardly his fault and, if he doesn’t understand the intricacies behind the Carr Hill formula immediately, that is not necessarily a signal that he will be a disaster.

With that in mind, keeping his counsel and learning his patch would be a smart move. Sure, it may attract some criticism, but as they say it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Unfortunately, Mr Hancock isn’t taking this road and has gone full guns blazing in favour of Babylon’s GP at Hand model. (As an aside, when his predecessor attached himself to a cause, it was something as uncontroversial as ‘patient safety’.)

Non-profitable patients not only need care too, they need the most amount of care

Mr Hancock told the Telegraph GP at Hand is ‘revolutionary’, ‘helping to take the pressure off the NHS’ and ‘helps to deliver ultimately a better service’.

Most shockingly, he said: ‘I care about helping GP at Hand to expand not because I want to help Babylon but because I want the rules to be in place and the system to work so that loads of companies can come and do what Babylon are doing. I want to help your competitors even before they’re starting.’

Now, I don’t need to tell you all that is wrong with this point of view. One thing I would say is it suggests to me that he does not understand the basics of general practice.

So I make a plea to the health secretary: learn about general practice before tying yourself any further to Babylon. Understand how general practice doesn’t lend itself to free market economics and competition. Non-profitable patients not only need care too, they need the most amount of care.

We can forgive your silence. We can’t forgive your destabilising of general practice.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk