“In Dr Myers’ day it was a lot more NHS-ish,” says Geoff, 69, recalling Haxby and Wigginton surgery’s GP when he first became a patient in 1975. That was long before it was one of 10 practices in the Haxby group and occupied these functional, unpretty premises.
What does NHS-ish mean? “You sat still and you said nothing,” says Kris Holliday, 74. “The doctor was more on a pedestal, whatever the doctor said went,” adds Paul Jackson, who at 50 has also been using the surgery in York for 40 years, often accompanying his wife, Jayne, 57, while she had kidney dialysis and finally a transplant. “You’re dealing with a practice now,” says Holliday. “I’m surprised to hear myself say it, but doctors have become team players and we, as patients, are part of the team.”
The Haxby group is the new model GP army. They work with other “like-minded” surgeries, as senior partner Dr David Hayward puts it. This may not sound particularly novel or political, but Dr Fiona Scott, in one of the Hull surgeries, says briskly: “When we arrived in Hull, nobody talked to anyone.” “There’s still a lot of one-man bands in Hull,” adds her colleague Dr Laura Balouch, ruefully. Many of the Haxby GPs have acted on the clinical commissioning group (CCG) boards – which under Andrew Lansley’s reforms were meant to have GPs at their heart. Every doctor I met had stood down, citing time pressures when asked about it, in a resolute “that’s all I want to say on the matter” tone of voice.
The real innovation – the bit that might ring alarm bells of privatisation with some – is not so much their commissioning relationship with hospitals as their expansionist nature. They have six surgeries in York, run along traditional partnership lines with a general medical services (GMS) contract with NHS England; and four in Hull, for which they won the newer alternative provider of medical services (APMS) contracts, devised in 2013. These have to be run as limited companies – partnership was not an option in the bidding process. Other innovations, such as two on-site pharmacies they have set up, are also limited companies…………….
- Some patient names have been changed.