I was fortunate enough to attend the excellent Pulse Live conference in London. The final speaker of the event was Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s General Practice Committee.
I noted something which alarmed me greatly, and which demonstrates a significant problem. This has nothing to do with what Dr Vautrey said; in fact, I thought his talk was articulate, informative and enthusiastic.
The issue is that so many delegates declined to stay for this 3pm lecture, and headed home.
I don’t criticise the delegates that left, although, personally, I did find that the exodus from the hall as Dr Vautrey arrived, was somewhat embarrassing. It was obvious to me that it was the younger doctors who departed. It seemed that the majority of those who remained in the hall were, like me, of ’more advanced years’. The clear implication was that younger doctors have less of an interest in the new contract.
This will put the work of getting PCNs up and running, in the hands of the already precarously small group of older GPs, many of whom are partners.
I must be honest. I am no longer a partner myself, but I did put 30 years of commitment into my surgery and so I do appreciate that NHS reforms require very hard work at practice level, if they are to bring about improved quality of care.
My simple request to those who will be monitoring the new contract is that they appreciate that it will be a relatively small group of doctors who will be setting up the systems to ensure that these reforms do work. Those doctors will need plenty of time and support, in order for them make a success of these new opportunities.
Dr David Whitehead is a locum GP in West Sussex