The recently departed strategy director of NHS England has been appointed as a partner at a large GP and urgent care provider, which is seeking to sell its model elsewhere.
Robert Harris’ departure from the national commissioning body was announced in April. He had led its Call to Action work on a five-year NHS strategy.
He has now been appointed a full time equity partner at Lakeside Surgery in Corby, and its linked group practices, it has been announced.
The GP partnership in Northamptonshire is one of the largest in England, with a list of 47,000 – the majority of Corby CCG’s 67,000 population. Since 2012 it has also run an urgent care centre, which has been recognised at a national level as a good example of such a centre.
The partnership is now seeking to have its model commissioned in other areas of the country, work which will be led by Professor Harris with Stuart Maitland-Knibb, Lakeside’s clinical lead for urgent care.
Professor Harris said: “[The urgent care centre] is a model that we want to roll out in partnership with other GPs, commissioners and providers across the NHS in England who are currently struggling with their [accident and emergency] performance.
“Our model is a way in which structural transformation can be achieved with the minimum of change, that benefits patients, allows acute providers to do what they do best – emergency treatment requiring admission and specialist attention – and is simply cheaper.”
It comes as both main political parties have recently focused on urgent care and GP access, and as NHS England works to improve urgent care and extend service access hours.
He added: “We are in a great position to work with partners across the NHS to roll out a higher quality, more cost effective urgent care service. This will… enable hospitals and commissioners that are struggling to provide an effective urgent care service to work with us to improve standards and outcomes for patients.”
Lakeside Surgery senior partner Peter Wilczynski, a GP and also chair of Corby CCG, said: “I am delighted that Robert has agreed to join Lakeside as a partner.
“He has an impressive track record of achieving real change and delivering real value.
“He has a deep understanding of the growing importance of primary care and how it can be extended to serve the needs of patients requiring more urgent treatment and also for those patients with more complex long term conditions.”
Professor Harris will join the organisation next month. He will also work on its partnership with Leicester University, which provides medical training spanning primary and urgent care, which is rare.