Having a voice, being heard


The world of the NHS is constantly changing. Every government feels that one re-organisation deserves another and that tinkering with the structure will help to meet the perennial and well-recognised problem of underfunding. With each re-organisation comes a new set of acronyms to learn and subsequently forget. Today’s registrars may not even know what PBC and PCT used to stand for. CCG and AUA DES currently cause consternation to many. Who knows how long either of them will continue to exist?

The acronym, however, on the lips of many involved with general practice is STP – which stands for Strategic Transformational Plan. Put simply, it is the mechanism by which the concepts outlined in the Five Year Forward View are to be implemented and means a re-organisation of primary care, community care, social care and secondary care into groupings that seem to be roughly equivalent to old SHAs (another anachronistic acronym). Around the country there are 44 groupings that are hurriedly being assembled in order to re-shape the care of our patients.

What has been clear is that for the large part, except in Birmingham and Solihull, GPs who are responsible for 90% of patient contacts in the NHS, have not been involved in the process. This may come as no surprise to those of you who realise that many of the guidelines, pathways and initiatives involving GPs are conceived and implemented without their input. This could be partly because we are so busy seeing patients and partly because GPs tend to lack a unified voice.

Birmingham and Solihull is the exception to the rule as the large GP networks, be they federations, super-practices or super-partnerships have formed a GP Alliance, along with representation from the LMC to represent the non-aligned, or independent practices. The GP Alliance is providing GP board members to all levels of the Birmingham and Solihull STP process, ensuring that general practice has a say in the latest round of local health economy shake-ups.

This is important because it shows that being part of a super-partnership, such as Our Health Partnership, is more than just a way to try get financial efficiencies and more than just a penguin-like reaction to huddling together in the face of the potential effects of austerity and NHS efficiency cuts. The role that Our Health Partnership has had in instigating the GP Alliance means that being a partner means that you have both a finger on the pulse and a voice in this next round of acronym-generating face-lifting process. It is, without doubt, the best way to prepare yourself for MCPs, ACOs and the seemingly inevitable “truly” 7-day primary care service.

If you want to be engaged in the process, we would encourage you to take a minute or two to glance over the board meeting minutes and agendas – you can listen to the streamed meetings. Take the chance to read the emails from the board and feel free to get in touch, either with executive team, or the board via your locality lead. For OHP to be your voice we need to be able to hear you. If you are not involved in GP “at scale” process and feel the STP process is important then why not collaborate with the LMC, your neighbours or consider if federation or similar may be the way forward for you?

Samir Dawlatly is a GP partner at Jiggins Lane Medical Centre and Board Member of Our Health Partnership. The views expressed here are his own and don’t necessarily represent that of any organisation he works for.