My email to ‘Choose Your GP’ pilot enthusiast

The Department of Health’s press release for the Choose Your GP Pilot, contained this endorsement by a GP:

A Westminster GP Ruth O’Hare said:

“This initiative will mean that commuters working in the heart of London will in future have far greater flexibility around their choice of GP, enabling some to choose to see a GP closer to where they work.

“I welcome this exciting initiative which the Department of Health is resourcing as it offers patients greater access to NHS care at a time and place that is convenient to them.”

*

I emailed this GP as follows:

From: Farrelly George (TOWER HAMLETS PCT)
Sent: 23 April 2012 07:38
To: O’Hare Ruth (WESTMINSTER PCT)
Subject: Yours views on ‘Choice of GP Practice’ pilot

Dear Ruth O’Hare,

I am a GP in Tower Hamlets. I will confess that I am sceptic with respect to this pilot, but I read in the DoH press release that you are an enthusiast. Seeing as how you are in essence giving a public endorsement for this policy, can I just ask for some very brief clarification (just ‘back-of-an-envelope’ thoughts)?

1. ‘I welcome this exciting initiative…’: please name 3 things that you find exciting about the policy.

2. Do you think there are any risks with the policy? If so, would you name three?

3. With respect to the broader policy of abolishing GP practice boundaries altogether, are you in favour of this proposal as well?

Many thanks.

Best wishes,

George

The Tredegar Practice 35 St Stephens Road London E3 5JD

www.onegpprotest.org

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Richard Feynman, Physicist


From: O’Hare Ruth (WESTMINSTER PCT)
Sent: 01 May 2012 09:37
To: Farrelly George (TOWER HAMLETS PCT)
Subject: RE: Yours views on ‘Choice of GP Practice’ pilot

Dear George,

I have discussed your email with local colleagues.

The response seems to be that this is a local issue and needs to be decided at CCG level and amongst local practices.

Best wishes

Ruth


From: Farrelly George (TOWER HAMLETS PCT)
Sent: 25 May 2012 12:34
To: O’Hare Ruth (WESTMINSTER PCT)
Subject: RE: Yours views on ‘Choice of GP Practice’ pilot

Dear Ruth,

I would have replied earlier but have been away.

Your endorsement on the DoH website, quoted in the press, did not say ‘This might work for some areas, but needs to be discussed at a local level’, but gave the impression that you thought this was a commendable policy.

I would ask again: are you able to give answers to the 3 questions I raised in my original email? Why do you, and indeed your local colleagues, think this is a good thing for general practice inWestminster?

You see, I believe this policy to be very flawed, very misguided. I have been unable to find anyone able to give a coherent and credible argument in its favour (Department of Health; Kings Fund; politicians; GP proponents). The magic word ‘choice’ is used, but nobody looks realistically at what this means in practical terms; proponents point to the government ‘consultation’ of 2010, allegedly showing that the public support having ‘choice’, but the consultation itself was in many ways a deception, painting a one-sided picture of what this ‘choice’ would involve, and omitting mention of any risks.

You are a GP in a position of authority; you have lent your good name to promoting this policy. Why?

Best wishes,

George

The Tredegar Practice 35 St Stephens Road London E3 5JD

www.onegpprotest.org

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Richard Feynman, Physicist

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