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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Piqued Practice
Dr David Colin-Thome has been appointed a health czar
The programme was broadcast at 2000BST on Sunday, July 28 on BBC Two

Ministers say they want to give power to doctors and staff at the frontline of the service, and you can't get more "frontline" than in primary care and in the community, where nine out of every ten NHS patients are cared for.

But their plans have not gone smoothly. A ballot in May 2001 showed that more than half of all family doctors in the UK threatened to walk away from the NHS if the Government didn't come up with a new contract for them.

The last programme follows the progress of these contract negotiations - between the GPs' trade union and a group of NHS managers asked to step in on the government's behalf.

Can they save the day? If large numbers of GPs leave the NHS, it would seem the whole reform enterprise might be doomed to failure.

Czar

Filmed over the course of a year, the programme charts the changing face of the NHS through the eyes of doctors and nurses who are charged with delivering the improvements the Government wants:

Doctors and nurses at a surgery in Worthing, Sussex, are struggling just to cope with existing demands on the service. They'd like to do what they can to improve things, but fear that if they try to change too much, they'll endanger the safety of their patients.

Up in Runcorn, North Cheshire, is Castlefields health centre, which has achieved results that ministers want to see replicated elsewhere. The government has made Dr David Colin-Thome into a "Czar", working for the Department of Health.

New Labour has spawned several of these "czars" and now we discover what they do and what they're for. The film follows him into his meetings with ministers, and in frequently bruising encounters when he tries to sell the government's message to fellow NHS workers.

Producer: Jess Atkinson
Executive Editor: Anne Tyerman

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