Practices need to be ready to “embrace change”, the head of the RCGP argues

The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has argued that doctors need to be prepared to look at new ways of working.

In a wide-ranging interview with the website GP Online, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said that surgeries would need to accept that changes in the way practitioners operate were “inevitable.”

The Lichfield GP has just begun her three year term in the role; the third woman in a row to take the top job.

She made clear that it was an immensely challenging time for the profession and, having seen the strain being placed on practices first-hand, she has pledged to “hold feet to the fire” to ensure that much-needed funds are invested in GP surgeries.

She was also unequivocal that if the Government wants to reallocate more services to GPs, to ease the burden on hospitals and other secondary care providers, then the appropriate resources need to be made available to make the transition viable.

“We know that general practice can do things more cost effectively than hospitals,” she said.

“It makes sense for patients, it makes sense financially, therefore it makes sense for the NHS. But that equation only works if the resource follows – you can’t do this on fresh air.”

However, Dr Stokes-Lampard also acknowledged that against a backdrop of GP federations being set up and an increasing tendency towards “working at scale”, surgeries can ill afford to ignore the fundamental changes taking place.

“Changes are actually necessary for our profession,” she said. “It is important that general practice evolves to survive. The NHS has never been static and it’s naive to think there is going to be one model of general practice for the future.

“GPs need to accept that change is inevitable. We can’t continue the way we are – so many areas have already embraced change and are working constructively with it. Be prepared to have a go at new models.”

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