Exciting but worrying times for GPs, says Buckman

GPs live in exciting times, GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman told today's conference of local medical committees (LMCs).

Dr Buckman: Mr Lansley is 'no softy'
Dr Buckman: Mr Lansley is 'no softy'

In his chairman's address, Dr Buckman focused on a vision of collaboration with ‘a coalition that few of us could have predicted’.

Click here to read Dr Buckman's speech in full

GPs stand on the threshold of ‘a government that has given much prominence to expressing a desire to engage with GPs to deliver health care,’ he said.

He called on health secretary Andrew Lansley to start with the binnable items – PFI, management consultants, patient surveys, bits of NHS Direct, Choose and Book, the summary care record – and this call drew more bursts of applause – eleven, one really quite loud - than any other in his address.

He reminded Mr Lansley that GPs’ conversations with their patients put them in a unique position to know ‘where the NHS does or doesn’t work’ – and that went down well too.

But these are worrying times too. Mr Lansley, Dr Buckman - sporting a pigs-flying tie - reminded delegates, is 'no softy'.  What's more, the dawn of new hope could just turn into an early morning of the-same-again – lots of chat about engagement, followed by policy by decree.

So, for the benefit of civil servants at the back of the hall, he gave a message to carry back to Mr Lansley: ‘If we can work together, we can make the NHS thrive, even if there is no new money’.

In his ebullient style, Dr Buckman deftly hid the year’s bad news behind the new-hope front. He could only say that the GPC was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the pay deal, the failure to grow the trainees’ supplement and the hit that PMS practices are taking.

But there has been some good news. Sessional GPs – non-principals – now have their own body and voice within the GPC.

How did Dr Buckman’s third address as GPC chairman go down with delegates? They were most enthused by the dreadfully familiar – the bad policies of the past. The 22-minute address was punctuated 29 times by applause and three times by (just audible) laughter.  

Standing ovations are an expectation when the chairman speaks. Dr Buckman got his, just one, when he’d finished. It lasted 41 seconds or so and nearly every delegate stood to applaud their chairman.

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