Chris Lancelot: The White Paper Part 3: GPs rule, OK?

The more I think about the White Paper, the better it gets.

The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com
The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com

The sheer brilliance of letting GPs loose with most of the NHS budget is just breathtaking. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine anything like this: for the first time in decades, clinicians will be in charge of the NHS.

And not just clinicians but GPs. At long last we will be freed from Lord Moran's notorious assessment of us as 'failed hospital doctors'. It's a judgment which has echoed down the years, insidiously gnawing at our pride, self-esteem and respect from others. GPs are GPs by choice, not failed hospital doctors: we're successful, specialised clinicians who really ought to be called 'consultants in family medicine'.

Although many people instinctively assume hospital consultants alone should be leading the NHS, a moment's thought shows how inappropriate this is. GPs are highly qualified: our opinions are just as valid and our expertise just as relevant as our hospital colleagues' - perhaps more so, given both the breadth of our skills and our long experience in managing the most efficient part of the NHS: primary care.

But equally, hospital consultants shouldn't feel upset or threatened because GPs will be holding the reins of power. I have a message for them: we are your colleagues, not your enemies. We are all in this together. We have as much interest in the success of secondary care as you: indeed, by commissioning wisely and firmly we can help liberate you from inefficient hospital management, so that you can deliver your specialist care more effectively. Consultants won't be sidelined in the new NHS: the practice of medicine will be 'business as usual'.

But not everything in the NHS will remain the same. We GPs will be telling our consortia to remove all inessential management structures and intrusive demands for data.

We will create an NHS where patients aren't treated like inert statistics, we will make hospital managers do what is right for the patients rather than convenient for themselves and we will demand that scarce resources are devoted to clinical activity rather than wasted on inessential management consultants.

It will be wonderful. I can't wait.

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