How times have changed…

Recently my colleague Phil Corrigan, our CCG’s Chief Executive, talked about how she returned to her nursing roots 32 years to the day from when she first stepped into the profession. I had a similar experience recently and it made me realise how much things have changed since my first tentative steps into the world of general practice 29 years ago.

This realisation came to me as I helped my son consider his options once he completes his final year as a medical student and looks to apply as a foundation year doctor. All those years ago I certainly didn’t envisage being a commissioning expert let alone a clinical chair of a commissioning body. Although I do like to think I have aged well…you can stop laughing now!

I attended a recent meeting of the NHS Commissioning Assembly held at the Oval Cricket Ground in London and luckily I didn’t retire hurt* after listening to plans outlined by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for NHS England, which reassuringly recognised the role of primary care. *Apologies for the cricketing pun.

I managed to speak to Simon over lunch and was pleased to hear that he did not want to make any changes to the way CCGs are set up (unless of course there is a change in political policy) and how he saw co-commissioning working in the future.

It was also party conference season in the run up to the election we know that the NHS will be a key talking point. What we did learn was that the main political parties want to see more done at primary care and recognise the need to recruit more GPs especially if they are to deliver seven day working.

It was again reassuring to hear that our local strategy for primary care is in synergy with national thinking especially around managing more patients within primary or community based care settings. Now we just need to work on how we do this in light of the expected funding gap…

Closer to home and the Leeds CCGs and NHS England colleagues have been putting together a more detailed proposal about how we can co-commission services. This will need the support of our member practices and this will be on the agenda for our members meeting on 20 November. I see this as potentially being the greatest opportunity to date for primary care to significantly influence commissioning decisions.

As part of our approach to integrated care we know how important partnership working is but we need to ensure we do this correctly. As a result I will be attending a workshop called co-operation, collaboration and competition which looks at how we need to address competition legislation while ensuring we also help our providers to collaborate to deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.

I am pleased to announce that we will shortly be filling our two vacant GP locality chair roles on our Governing Body following a recent ‘eligibility for election’ selection process. The two new chairs will be Dr Simon Hulme and Dr Mark Liu.

A lot may have changed from 29 years ago although I’m pleased to say I’m still a GP. At our practice we are currently trialling a new appointment system. This is aimed at striking a balance between competing demands – patients requiring same day appointments and requests for appointments in advance. So far the system seems to be working well but we expect we will make some tweaks based on feedback from patients and our staff. Our practice has also put together a proposal to take part in the CCG’s extended access scheme.

If my patients are reading this I hope you will vouch for me when I say I always talk about doing things in moderation. With this in mind I have recently been taking part in a spot of wine tasting.

During my recent break in Switzerland I sampled the delights of the local wine merchants. I will follow this up with a trip to Malaga and Granada in November for a wine tasting excursion, this is after taking part in a Spanish wine tasting session here in Leeds. Before I go I may just have to take part in an Audit C test (here’s a technical explanation of the test) to see if I could be classed as a hazardous drinker…

If you have any wine tasting tips or have any comments about anything else in this blog please do get in touch.



Dr Gordon Sinclair is the Clinical Chair for NHS Leeds West CCG as well as a practicing GP based at Burton Croft Surgery in Headingley, Leeds.