GPs must not be QOF zombies, warns NHS Alliance leader

Primary care should be radically redesigned and brought closer to housing, pharmacy and social care services, the NHS Alliance chairman will argue today.

Dr Michael Dixon: primary care changes are vital
Dr Michael Dixon: primary care changes are vital

Devon GP Dr Michael Dixon will tell the NHS Alliance annual conference in London that fragmented primary care teams should be rebuilt and expanded to include professionals who have been sidelined.

He will call for the dismantling of the ‘anti-competitive’ funding system ‘which pins down the resources of primary care with a fixed and dwindling budget’ but offers hospitals an ‘ever increasing proportion of the NHS budget’.

Welcoming the clinical commissioning coming of age and a new focus from the government on primary care and reducing bureaucracy, Dr Dixon will say today is a time without comparison, with ‘enormous opportunities and fearsome challenges’ for general practice and primary care.

‘How often have I stood before you and said: "Primary care is absent in Whitehall?" How often have we jeered those "mad magicians" at the centre, who thought that their next bright idea would be the answer to our NHS’s problems? How often were the views of primary care ignored?’ he will say.

But he will warn that ‘vultures’ are circling to deprive primary care of primary care of its commissioning role, and the sector has no more than a year to show it can make a difference.

‘Today, we are no longer the problem. Today, it is recognised that list-based general practice and primary care is the very reason why the NHS has been so efficient for decades. Why we come top in the Commonwealth Fund’s ratings. Why we must build on general practice, not break it up.’

But GP must not allow themselves to become ‘zombies, fulfilling the next QOF target, sheep reacting to the next financial incentive or hamsters peddling away to see more patients at all hours’, he will say. ‘General practice and primary care must free itself from this sweatshop.’

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