RCGP urges clinicians to improve care

Doctors must stop saying no to political initiatives if they want to improve care across the country, said the new chairman of the RCGP in response to health minister Ara Darzi’s interim report.

Professor Steve Field

Professor Steve Field told delegates at the RCGP’s annual conference in Edinburgh today that he welcomed the emphasis on primary care and health inequalities in the report.

Darzi proposes that at least half of practices in England should open extended hours, either Saturday mornings or one or more evenings each week.

Funding will be available but if practices refuse then PCTs can commission services from alternative providers.

Professor Field added: ‘If you say no, no, no, no, we won’t be able to improve care across the country.

‘We’ll want to consult about the solutions rather than saying it’s a problem.’
Professor Field spoke after the health secretary Alan Johnson addressed the conference by videolink.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to work in collaboration with GPs.

‘You will know that we have come through a period where we needed to have a top down from the centre approach but that phase of the journey is over. We want to produce an NHS that’s clinically led and locally driven.

‘It means working really closely with GPs and their representatives.’

He promised ‘a dialogue’ on the four main themes of the report: quality, health and inequalities, innovation and access.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that many patients were satisfied with their access to GPs.

‘But there is a big chunk that is not,’ he said.
He said ethnic minority communities and some under-doctored areas in the country required more attention.

‘We need to ensure that practices are open at more convenient times and that more open on

Saturday morning,’ said Mr Johnson.

Professor Field said PCTs would be able to use funding for GP federations to improve access.

‘The theme is about finding solutions to help patients. The majority of people want to support patients to access care where they need it. We need to sort out how this might be delivered.’

Professor Field said it was pleasing to see similarities between Professor Darzi’s interim report and the RCGP roadmap that was published two weeks ago.

‘Some of the words we used have been used in the report,’ he said.

He said the key to improving care was to ensure there was not a top-down review.

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