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Stafford health leader: "Getting GPs to work together is like herding cats"

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: July 10, 2014

"Getting GPs to work together is like herding cats"

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JOINING up health and community care across Staffordshire and providing a 24/7 service is being held up by some family doctors’ reluctance to change, health leaders say.

“Getting GPs to work together is a bit like herding cats,” Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group chair Dr Anne-Marie Houlder said.

“They like to do their own thing.”

It was difficult to get buy-in for changes such as extending GP practices’ opening hours, she told Stafford Borough Council’s health scrutiny committee.

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And she predicted “blood on the surgery floor” in the discussions between GPs and the CCG before changes were hammered out.

“We have a struggle with primary care,” Dr Houlder said. “Change is not universally popular, but we have got to transform care because it ain’t working at the moment. Patients are saying they can’t get appointments to see a doctor.”

She said the CCG was working hard to convince GPs that they needed to work together to provide a seven-day service, and that this would not mean every surgery having to open every weekend.

“Acute care in hospitals has to become a full seven-day service, and primary and community care need to step up to support that,” she said.

“If hospitals want to discharge people at weekends, we must have the district nurses and social care in place to support that.

“This is not about getting GPs to work harder - most of my colleagues are working 12 or 14 hour days and they are knackered. But we must look at how we can work differently.

“This is about collaborating and working in a federated way.”

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