Guest Editorial - NHS reforms must lead to improved patient care

The passage of the Health Bill will be the dominant theme for our profession for the foreseeable future, as the ramifications and implications of the biggest change to the NHS since it began become clearer.

Dr Clare Gerada: 'The RCGP is not opposed to NHS reform, so long as doing so improves healthcare for  our patients'
Dr Clare Gerada: 'The RCGP is not opposed to NHS reform, so long as doing so improves healthcare for our patients'

My mailbox heaves with the concerns of many hundreds of GPs, healthcare professionals and members of the public asking, in one way or another, what I am going to do to 'save the NHS'.

Whether the NHS needs saving or not is a question yet to be answered, but on the proposals of the Health Bill, the College has made its position clear: we are not opposed to NHS reform, so long as doing so improves healthcare for our patients.

The College and GPs have called for a clinician-led health service, with patients at its centre, for many years.

But what we must not ignore are the concerns of our membership about the pace of change, the emphasis on competition and the very real danger of fragmentation to patient care.

Most GPs simply want to be doctors, and their concern is that the time spent on administration and budgeting could be far better spent caring for patients.

Concerns aside, the RCGP is mindful of its responsibility to ensure that GPs are equipped with the skills and tools to engage in commissioning and to maintain high standards of care for patients.

The new RCGP Centre for Commissioning has already recruited 50 commissioning champions from more than 200 expressions of interest and is running a series of practical workshops on effective commissioning for GPs across England.

Whatever the outcome of these reforms, we must ensure they result in improved care for patients, preservation of the best of the NHS and protection of generalism. There is much in the current NHS that we should protect and take pride in; managing this year's flu outbreak again reminded me how general practice is the sponge of the NHS, able to absorb extra demand when required.

This is the strength of having generalists at the heart of the NHS, and this needs to be replicated in the context of the wider political landscape.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus