Moves to create groups of GP practices which can share and expand services have been frustrated by the commissioning reforms, Clare Gerada said.

In an exclusive HSJ interview, Dr Gerada said accelerating the development of “federations” of practices, which the college believes will improve services and save money, had been a priority before the Health Bill was published. She said: “Many practices were already federating – then top down reform stops everybody in their tracks.

“We can still have that if we think imaginatively…but it is more complicated because we’re removing GPs to run commissioning which means there is less time to sort out provider reform.”

Dr Gerada said she was concerned about her work being dominated by the reforms. She said: “When the bill was published in July I had a really heavy heart because I knew my chairmanship would be preoccupied by [it].

“What I really and truly wanted to do is make things better for patients.” She said she had arranged for a commission on the future of general practice to be carried out, as well as several projects to address health inequalities.

She is also urging GPs to improve access to their services, including by embracing telehealth - unpopular with many GPs - and improving care coordination within and beyond primary care, for example by creating integrated teams with other services.