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NHS shows a ‘deep, continuing and historical contempt for primary care’

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Addressing leaders from across the NHS, Dr Michael Dixon, the outgoing chair of NHS Alliance, yesterday attacked the secondary care focus that dominates the NHS, stating it is ‘utterly unbelievable’ that the NHS is still dominated by secondary care, whether it is national leadership roles or the accelerating number of specialists compared to GPs.

Dr Dixon claimed that NHS England’s primary care budget was underspent yet again this year, in spite of primary care’s desperate plea for people and resources at a time when it has lost 25% of its share of the NHS budget. Dr Dixon asserted that the underspend has been used to cover financial deficits in hospitals – deficits that cannot exist in primary care.

In his address, Dr Dixon, said: “It is utterly unbelievable that NHS England’s primary care budget should have been underspent, and used to cover financial deficits in secondary care. General Practice has already carried a disproportionate share of austerity at a time when it has been expected to extend its role.  Hospital deficits were eventually paid off. You can’t have deficits in general practice; practices simply go bust.

“Furthermore, secondary care takes all the top positions, whether it’s occasional ministerial positions, Medical Director of the NHS, clinical leadership at the Department of Health, or even non-hereditary peers in the House of Lords, where there is no primary care clinical voice. This represents a deep, continuing and historical contempt for primary care.”

To mark his standing down from an 18 year reign as chair of NHS Alliance, Dr Michael Dixon addressed NHS leaders, including the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and set out the current issues – and potential solutions – facing the NHS.

Thanking Michael for his contribution to the NHS, Jeremy Hunt said: “People call it the Stevens plan, but a lot of it is the Dixon plan. It’s the NHS Alliance plan, it’s the plan to put GPs at the heart of the transformation that we now want to happen, and you’re going to have the luxury of being able to watch from a little bit afar, to see whether we get it right or not.

“We are really going to miss you, you have made a fantastic contribution to the NHS over many years. I’m sure you will continue to be in touch with us, cheering us on from the side-lines. Thank you on behalf of the whole NHS.”

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