Winning by force of argument
It is always traditional when we wave goodbye to the year that has just gone and welcome in the New Year that we reflect on what has happened and what could happen. From a medical political perspective, 2012 has been a fascinating year with so many events happening and I am sure 2013 promises to be equally eventful. For me, the most significant medical political event in 2012, and one on which I made my personal view known (click here), was the industrial action that some doctors undertook. I doubt if we will see industrial action again in 2013 but we will still have to flex our muscles, defend our corner and make our views widely known. It just may require a change in tactics.
The battlefield may not necessarily be pensions but frontline services and we need to make our case to the public, loud and clear. Take for example the new QOF plans, which were recently covered by the Univadis Medical News service (click here), and have already been criticised by the GPC.
The impact of these proposed changes, if rolled out, could be far reaching with funding at risk of dropping and workload rising; a combination that could critically affect primary care function. Patients and hence the public at large, understand these impacts but will not understand the technicalities of QOF. In fact, some GPs don't truly understand some of the more complex details of QOF. So it is our job to explain the impact of these changes in an understandable manner, in the same way we would explain a complex medical problem to a patient. Getting the public on our side by force of argument rather than by industrial action is crucial to preserving the basic fabric of primary care.
It is for the politicians to decide whether healthcare and primary care in particular should get funding at the expense of other worthy causes, but politicians listen to the public, after all it is the public who determines which elected representatives survive.
So by putting our case for preserving and enhancing primary care in a clear and concise manner and influencing the public, who, generally speaking, hold us in good regard, we may succeed in 2013; almost certainly another year of austerity with money in short supply.
I therefore think this should be our policy in 2013 and not industrial action. Can I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and let's hope that 2013 will be kind to us all.
Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief Univadis
By Dr Harry Brown