- Nigel Hawkes
The paradox of a service that seems to do all the right things but does not always deliver the right results was never quite resolved at a conference in London on primary care on 11 March.
Ara Darzi, the former Labour health minister and now co-director of the Centre for Health Policy at Imperial College London, organised the conference with the aim of harnessing international experience to raise the quality of primary care in the NHS.
He called primary care the “rock” of the NHS. David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS in England, added that it was its cornerstone. And the conference watched a slide presentation by Robin Osborn, vice president of the New York based Commonwealth Fund, who extolled the NHS as the exemplar of what a health service should be.
On almost every slide Osborn showed (except the one on outcomes) the NHS came out best or nearly best in an international comparison of 11 advanced countries: on access, out of hours care, patient engagement, shared care plans, electronic medical records, and patients’ and doctors’ opinions.