White Paper 'once-in-a-lifetime' chance, says RCGP chief

The NHS White Paper is the best opportunity for GPs to regain clinical leadership of the NHS for more than 30 years, according to RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field.

Professor Field: join federations (Photograph: Solent News)

He said it was a once-in-a-career opportunity for many GPs, who had seen the profession sidelined in the past.

'What we have not managed since I became a GP is effective clinical leadership at all levels of the NHS,' he said.

'In fact, GPs have often been excluded from leadership positions in favour of specialists, while involvement and leadership from patients has only been paid lip service. I believe that this is a massive opportunity.'

Professor Field said GPs had often been frustrated at not being involved in local management. 'Now there is a chance to take charge. It's not without risks but if we walk away from it, the alternative is not even worth thinking about,' he said.

Professor Field also encouraged practices to join together in federations wherever necessary.

'I see federations as integral to making the NHS successful. It's much better that practices work together than see private companies coming in.'

He said the college would play a major role in helping GPs lead NHS reform.

'The college can do a great deal in helping GPs develop the leadership capabilities and commissioning skills to work effectively in this challenging new landscape,' he said.

But he warned there were still major issues to be addressed, such as the financing of the reforms and the proposals on education and training.

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