Practice Management Adviser,
Boroughloch Medical Practice
Just a few weeks ago, the announcement of the new health secretary was reported as being positively welcomed by GPs.
"Mr Lansley is the kind of man GPs could work with," enthused one Avon GP.
In June, Andrew Lansley began to unveil his plans for the health service, explaining that there would be "uncertainty" in the NHS as a result of "tough choices" he would make to improve quality of service and meet rising demand. He stated that:
To this end, a revised Operating Framework for 2010/11 was hastily published. While the main health priorities all remain – patient access, infection control, improving the nation's health, reducing inequalities, enhancing the patient experience and being ready for states of emergency – the removal, amendments and general tinkering are of great concern to general practice.
The rationale for removing targets that "have no clinical justification" is understandable – but, as ever, the impact of policy will be felt in practices.
So, for "uncertainty" read "more work with fewer people to do it". The unions are incensed at the two-year pay freeze and likely cuts. The media are hinting that additional, as yet hidden, cuts are still to be announced. Worst of all, Mr Lansley has personally insulted Jamie Oliver!
And then, just as we are getting used to the idea of removing targets, a whole new raft of quality standards, with 30 measures in three clinical areas – dementia, stroke and blood clots, were announced. With a further 150 sets of standards to follow! But these standards will not be enforced by central government. Instead, doctors will be expected to work out how these might be achieved – presumably part of that devolved responsibility promise!
Seems to me that uncertainty can damage your health (service). Wonder what that GP in Avon thinks?