A GP who produced a landmark review on how to integrate primary care with other NHS services has been appointed as NHS England’s new medical director of primary care.
Professor Claire Fuller, a GP and current chief executive of Surrey Heartlands ICS, will succeed Dr Nikki Kanani, who left the role in July 2022 to join NHS England’s chief delivery office team as director for clinical integration, initially on secondment.
The position had been filled by Dr Kiren Collison as interim medical director.
Professor Fuller has been a practicing GP since 1995, spending most of her career in Surrey, with a spell in Northumberland, where she worked in a single-handed rural practice.
Last year, she published her report on integrating primary care with other NHS services, after being tasked by NHS England to look at the ‘next steps’ for how PCNs will work in ICSs via a ‘stock-take’.
The main recommendations in her stocktake came around ‘enabl[ing] primary care in every neighbourhood to create single urgent care teams and to offer their patients the care appropriate to them when they pop into their practice, contact the team or book an online appointment’.
This would require a shift in national policy towards 111, she said, and organising a ‘single integrated urgent care pathway’.
The report recommended that urgent same-day appointments should be dealt with by ‘single, urgent care teams’ across larger populations rather than the patient’s own GP practice.
It also recommended that ICSs ‘develop a system-wide estates plan to support fit-for-purpose buildings for neighbourhood and place teams delivering integrated primary care, taking a “one public estate” approach and maximising the use of community assets and spaces’.
The document has since been accepted as the direction of travel by both NHS England and ICSs.
She said she felt ‘extremely honoured’ to have been offered this new position, adding: ‘Primary care is where the NHS becomes part of patients’ lives in the most local, familiar and continuous way.
‘It is where decisions you make with patients can shape the rest of their lives, and it’s where you have the privilege of following their lives and being part of their communities.
‘I hope to bring that essence, which underpinned the Fuller Stocktake, to this role where I will both champion primary care, its teams, professionals and partners, but also provide accountability to them and, most importantly, the patients we serve and the communities we are a part of.’
Chief executive of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor said: ‘Our members will be delighted to see Professor Fuller appointed to this important role.
‘Members valued the thorough engagement she undertook with NHS leaders across the whole system as part of her stocktake published in 2022 and we were pleased to be able to support her and her team with NHS Confederation members involved across all workstreams and steering groups.’
This article first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.