General practice staff must keep the patient voice alive if the founding principles of the NHS are to survive under the reformed health service, a GP leader has warned.
In a speech to healthcare professionals in Oxford last week, Royal College of GPs (RCGP) Chair Dr Clare Gerada said listening to patients and involving them in their care remains the "true strength" of general practice.
She said the art of being an "excellent communicator" is one of the values upon which general practice – and the wider NHS – were built.
Dr Gerada implored practice staff to "do everything possible" to make sure a patient's voice "isn't drowned out by the noisy machinery of the market" of the reformed NHS.
"Most people's experience of health care centres around the degree and quality of kindness they have experienced – or the lack of it. The quality of listening must be at the centre of all good healthcare," she said.
"It has never been more important to hold onto our values - the values that were there at the beginning of the NHS, which have held it together and made it the success it is, and which are embodied in Ann's work.
"If we're going to keep the founding values of the NHS alive, the patient's voice must be our guide".