Editorial: It is GPs who will rescue the NHS

Congratulations. If you didn't already know it, you will play a vital role in the future of the NHS.

Speaker after speaker at the National Association of Primary Care's (NAPC) conference in Birmingham last week said that primary care would be the saviour of the NHS.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson and a former adviser to Patricia Hewitt when she was health secretary both mentioned the possibility of hospitals being required to cut admissions by 20 per cent.

Where would these patients be looked after? Primary care.

So your workload is likely to increase. But many GPs at the NAPC conference saw this as an opportunity not a threat.

Practice-based commissioning (PBC) may have reportedly been described by primary care czar Dr David Colin-Thome as a corpse not for resuscitation, but if you listen to both Labour and the Conservatives it is the only game in town.

What commissioners at the conference wanted to know was where the financial incentives were to become 'foundation practices', to join community health collaboratives in taking on the very real financial risks of hard budgets?

Well, Mr Nicholson's statement that PCTs and SHAs could be better organised rather unusually put a price tag on their running costs: £1.4 billion.

A tidy sum.

Needless to say, NHS management won't be abolished any time soon. But it does seem likely that it will be slimmed down after the election and that at least some of the money funding layers of bureaucracy might be available to those on the front line to revitalise PBC.

And so it should be. And about time too.

After all, who do you trust to get the NHS out of its predicted financial hole: managers or GPs?

We rest our case. And we believe that patients and politicians would agree with us that it is GPs who will come to the rescue of the NHS.


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