RCGP chairman tells GPs to 'grow up' and save cash

Professor Steve Field argues integration of services is the future and urges GPs to embrace the change.

Professor Field: GPs must grow up (Wilde Fry)
Professor Field: GPs must grow up (Wilde Fry)

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field has urged the profession to 'grow up' and stop expecting more resources.

At a King's Fund debate on NHS finances, Professor Field said GPs were paid an 'appropriate amount' and should find ways to work more efficiently.

Professor Field said he wanted to see the RCGP and the profession being 'braver' in trying to improve quality, 'instead of listening to the (BBC's) Today programme and hearing GPs saying "we need more money to improve services"'.

The DoH has said the NHS in England needs to find productivity gains worth £20 billion over the next five years. An expert panel assembled by the King's Fund discussed whether the funding gap could be met by improving productivity, or whether cuts were inevitable.

Professor Field said GPs must work in networks of practices alongside specialists and other health professionals.

'Gone are the days when GPs can work in splendid isolation in small practices,' he said.

'The future looks like it will be an integrated care system.

We need to ask: "How are we going to integrate with elderly care and our specialist colleagues?" Grow up as GPs and hand over care. Don't be scared of specialists dominating.'

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said Professor Field's comments were not criticism of GPC negotiations with the DoH. 'I think it's his viewpoint and that's fine, but I disagree. Growing up, as he puts it, is being mindful of resource requirements,' he said.

'If there are no more resources then the service shrinks to fit those resources. It is not immature to point that out to politicians.'

Dr Buckman added: 'I need to be persuaded that services actually need to be redesigned. We have a fascination with redesign and I think maybe we should let the existing service bed in.

'At a time of financial stringency there is an argument that now is not the time to do things differently.'

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