Viewpoint: GP corner-shops and why the NHS needs to do Tesco without the mistakes

I've often suggested to colleagues that the NHS needs to do 'Tesco without the mistakes'.

It might seem a bit rich to suggest that Tesco have made mistakes, but it did. Read Sir Terry Leahy’s book ‘Management in 10 words’ and you will discover that the expansion of Tesco into corner-shops and convenience stores came as a recognition that old-fashioned cash and carrys were doing well despite the dominance of the large 24/7 mega stores in retail park developments. Tesco moved to a gap it had missed.

What's this to do with the NHS?

General practice isn't broke it just needs infrastructure development

At NHS Innovation Expo 2014 last week NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson suggested that primary care needs to move away from 8,000 corner shops or we won't be able to do 24/7 for seven days a week.

Given that Sir David is in end-of-term mode I think I can get away with saying this but that's pants for several reasons.

Firstly general practice isn't broke it just needs infrastructure development, provision of services needs to be standardised in ways and investment needs to reflect the fact that it is really good value. Secondly it also needs to be encouraged to diversify to meet the needs of the segmented population it should serve.

I could go on, but the simple truth is anything which loses the trusted relationship between GP and patient is the road to hell. To be honest I think there's more sense in the One person, one team, one system report.

How about we use GPs for general practice and urgent care centres for urgent care?

The problem is that  converting GP practices into medical supermarkets risks making the same mistake Tesco made, and that would be a big nail in the coffin of the NHS.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP and co-director of clincial strategy at Liverpool Health Partners.

Photo: UNP

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