Chairman’s New Year Message 2013

January 2, 2013 | Filed under

Happy New Year to all NHS Alliance members, and those who support our values and activities.

This year will see a huge change in NHS Alliance’s role from being primarily a membership organisation for commissioners, to becoming primarily a membership organisation for GP practices, primary care providers and individual clinicians, managers and patients.  A change in the identity of our members does not mean any change in our values. Our mission remains a commitment to all clinicians and clinicians and managers working together.  We are now moving to what may become a bigger and more central role.  As clinical commissioners and CCGs join NHS Clinical Commissioners, NHS Alliance’s on-going role will expand as we focus on supporting primary care provision, and also on providing a meeting place for commissioners and providers to do their best for patients and local communities.

Our first task this year will be to describe exactly how the new landscape might or should look post April 2013.  Since our conference in November, advised by the views of many delegates who came to Bournemouth, we have begun writing our “Manifesto” for the future of primary care.  On 10th January, a number of NHS Alliance leaders, academics and advisors will meet to begin editing this work, which we aim to publish in March ahead of “D-Day” – the launch of Clinical Commissioning Groups on 1st April 2013.  Our work in January/February will be very reminiscent of our work in producing “Restoring the Vision” in 1998, which eventually led to clinical commissioning and the establishment of Clinical Commissioning Groups. Our aim is that this new work will have an equal impact on the future provision of primary care.

Our future members are bound to want NHS Alliance to continue at the political forefront of the NHS and will no doubt value our mutual work in predicting and prescribing future primary care provision and opening its door to clinical commissioners.  Equally important to members, no doubt, will be our ability to support their work and help them to meet the challenges of the new world.

On January 3rd, we have a first meeting of leaders of our new General Practice Network, which will review how we can best support GPs, practice managers and other staff in General Practice to overcome the challenges ahead.  Whether it be deciding on organisational structure, or helping GP practices and groups of practices to diversify, win bids and do more for their patients, we hope that every progressive practice will want to join NHS Alliance with our collective ethos of improving services for patients and maintaining the spirit of the NHS.

Our developing network of primary care providers will be equally bound by the same set of values and is likely to include a very diverse range of organisations following the process of “Transforming Community Services”.  In truth, few have been particularly transformed so far but we hope that all community services, wherever they currently belong, will now want to join NHS Alliance as the organisation with its finger on the pulse of primary care and which can provide opportunities for networking, learning and providing a voice, which does not exist elsewhere.

As these new networks develop, we will also be working hard to extend our current networks and areas of work, acting as a bridge between commissioners and providers in primary care.  Our patient & public involvement network, for instance, will continue to champion the patient voice and shared decision making between patients and clinicians, having had considerable input to the recently published Government Mandate to the National Commissioning Board.  Our Urgent Care network will be shining a spotlight on NHS 111 as it is introduced across the Country, building on our recent publication offering practical support to local services as they develop integrated urgent care services.  We will continue our historical record of championing inequalities with the same message that good health begins with individuals and the local population and is the responsibility of every patient, clinician and manager.  Our specialists in primary care network looks poised to go viral as specialists increasingly recognise that a Primary Care led NHS is not one that undervalues specialists but, to the contrary, an NHS that needs to see primary care clinicians working with specialists and communities as the key to providing services closer to the patient’s home.  And a new innovation network will offer new and exciting ways  of sharing new ideas for improving care.

When all this work is accomplished, we will meet again at this year’s NHS Alliance annual conference on 20th/21st November in London and hope to celebrate the successes of primary care as well as its challenges, bringing primary care providers and commissioners together in an independent forum where all share the same values. Please put the dates in your dairy now!

It is going to be a busy year.  A year of change in our membership and, to some extent, our function.  A year where our survival will depend entirely on members and potential members valuing us as an organisation.  It will depend, as ever, upon the passion, determination and sweat of those many clinicians and managers within NHS Alliance, who are committed to creating better services and health for their patients.  Our long term advocacy of patients and communities against professional and organisational vested interests has inevitably made us enemies.  It has, fortunately, also made us many more friends.  The right friends – progressive, effective, committed and ambitious ones.  We shall only survive as an organisation if we can, this year, keep our old friends and also develop many more new ones.  Please join us, please contribute to our work, our debates and our activities.  Please help us to be difficult, dangerous and challenging, when we need to be.  Please help us to make a better NHS.


Happy New Year.


Dr Michael Dixon

Chair NHS Alliance