Senior GPs involved in large-scale collaborative schemes across England told delegates at the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool that building evidence and developing influence at board level in local primary care organisations were vital to ensuring local plans could succeed.
Being 'militant' about ensuring promises of funding and support were delivered was also important, speakers told delegates at a debate on new models of care.
A Surrey GP told the panel: 'Our CCG is just not investing, despite great local ideas. What do we do?'
Dr Matthew Dolman, a GP and former chair of Somerset CCG - where the Symphony project has integrated GP practices with a district hospital, including eight practices that are now part of the hospital trust - said building evidence to support proposals was key.
Primary care at scale
'CCGs are time-limited, I believe,' he told the conference. 'So keep going, build the evidence to show the value of your model - to show you can deliver these outcomes, for this money.'
East Cheshire GP Dr Paul Bowen told the audience that he was seeing 'more militancy' happening locally. 'It's a good thing. Locally we have said - for example - you promised £3 per head, and we're not seeing it.'
He added that GPs were not fighting locally for money, but for the future of their communities.
The speakers urged GPs to stand up and become leaders locally, to lead change and help drive it. Dr Steve Mann, multispecialty community provider lead for Dudley CCG told the conference that the age of the hospital was over, and that communities would now take the lead.
He said that GPs locally should build relationships with local managers and identify people whose opinions were respected in the local health economy. He also told GPs that they should not underestimate the strength of a clinical voice at boardroom level.
'Once we get into negotiations at that level, it is very unusual that the clinical voice gets drowned out. We bring reality to those discussions. Once you say "in my clinical opinion"...the room goes quiet.'
He added: 'We have to recognise the age of the hospital is over. The age of the community is going to come forward, and that’s where you have to position yourselves as leaders.'