NHS England official says collaboration can solve GP crisis as BMA ballot begins

Greater collaboration is the only solution to the challenges facing general practice, NHS England's new medical director for primary care in London has said in response to a GP ballot on industrial action.

NHS England London medical director for primary care Dr Jonty Heaversedge
NHS England London medical director for primary care Dr Jonty Heaversedge

South London GP Dr Jonty Heaversedge told GPonline that while he understood the pressures GPs voting on proposals for a co-ordinated list closure feel, the solution was to focus on the collaborative transformation of services as set out in the GP Forward View.

Dr Heaversedge, also chair of Southwark CCG, will take up the role in NHS England's London region next month. In the new position he will provide clinical leadership for primary care and digital transformation.

Speaking exclusively to GPonline before starting his new job, Dr Heaversedge said he would not use his position to try to persuade GPs of anything ‘other than the fact that ballot or no ballot, I think the solution for us for our future lies in much greater collaboration’.

Electronic voting details were sent to practices in England on Monday for the BMA indicative ballot and partnerships have a month to agree a position on whether they would be prepared temporarily to suspend new patient registrations or apply for formal list closure as a form of industrial action.

GP industrial action

The decision to ballot was agreed by LMC representatives at their annual conference in Edinburgh in May in response to what they said was the failure of NHS England’s GP Forward View to deliver resources to sustain the service.

Dr Heaversedge said he was aware of the concerns of fellow GPs, including increasing demand, complexity, and inappropriate workload and that the solution to those problems was in the collaborative transformation being promoted by NHS England.

‘I know that it's always going to be a difficult conversation when people are just so overwhelmed a lot of the time by the work that is coming through the door. But one of the tasks that I have I think is to help people to see that the solution to that has to lie in doing things differently.’

The GP said that whatever happens with the industrial action ballot, the solution would be greater collaboration. ‘What I don't want us to do as a profession is to sort of batten down the hatches and just try to cut our cloth,' he said.

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