Taking on the role of chief executive of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) on 1 October was both daunting and exciting. I am certain there has never been a better time to be at the forefront of change within primary care.
The continuing development of practice-based commissioning, together with a strong emphasis on the delivery of additional services outside the hospital setting, will undoubtedly lead to further opportunities and challenges.
The NAPC will continue to represent its UK-wide membership on these and relevant policy changes. Our dialogue with ministers and DoH senior officials - always cordial and professional if not always leading to agreement - will be critical in shaping primary care.
An early example is the debate about GP access: we know that some practices are already offering the hours of availability that the government would like to see widely adopted. The NAPC can help other practices to improve access. A 'one size fits all' solution is unlikely to work, so we will be working hard to ensure a sensible and sensitive approach to this issue.
My own background includes many years in primary care, as a former chief executive of two family health services authorities and of a large health authority, and within the private sector. I think I have some relevant insights into the challenges faced by those working in primary care.
I understand the need to talk face to face with primary care teams about the issues that matter to them and I look forward to hearing more from existing and prospective NAPC members.
We will be developing our regional presence so that stronger local partnerships can be forged with practices, primary care organisations and SHAs. Our message is 'talk with us about what you would like to see happen next in your NHS'.
Mike Ramsden is chief executive of the National Association of Primary Care, www.napc.co.uk.