Dr Nikki Kanani appointed as England’s top family doctor

GP Dr Nikki Kanani is now the country’s top family doctor after being appointed Medical Director for Primary Care for the NHS in England.

Dr Kanani said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England and NHS Improvement. This is one of the most central roles in the NHS for delivering even better treatment and services for our patients and I would like to thank friends and colleagues across the NHS who have been so supportive over the past year since I took on the role in an interim capacity.

“It has certainly been a sharp learning curve, but over that year we have achieved so much – including publishing the NHS Long Term Plan with a core focus on Primary Care, agreeing an historic five-year GP contract, and building new relationships across the profession.”

Dr Kanani, continues to work as a GP in Bexley, south-east London. Prior to joining NHS England as Deputy Medical Director of Primary Care, she was Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said: “Over the last 12 months Nikki has brought drive and enthusiasm to the role, using her wealth of experience both as a frontline GP and in a range of positions within healthcare as a clinical leader to improve patients’ care. I am confident this will continue in abundance and her energy and professionalism will continue to drive forward improvements for patients and GPs across England.

Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “GPs and primary care are vital to the success of the NHS and Nikki will provide great leadership as we work with GPs to tackle workforce pressures and expand access to services.”

Dr Kanani has held a range of positions within healthcare to support the development of innovative models of care, highly engaged clinical, patient and public leadership and is passionate about supporting primary care, improving service provision and population wellbeing. She said:

“The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a clear plan for a modern NHS with primary care at its heart, and as we deliver on this blueprint it’s clear that we need to tackle the challenges in recruiting and retaining the right workforce, which is why we are focusing on boosting GP numbers as well as bringing in thousands more physios, therapists and pharmacists as part of GP teams.”

Dr Kanani, who is a member of The King’s Fund General Advisory Council and holds a MSc in health care commissioning, says she sees the development of Primary Care Networks as vital:

“These networks represent another major advance for a new era of primary care, where general practice is sustainable, better able to connect with the community and pave the way for the future; with the very best of traditional GP services retained and enhanced with the latest available technology to improve patient care.”

Dr Kanani has also been appointed to chair the national review of access to general practice which was established in July.

The review has the key objective of improving patient access to general practice both in core hours and at evenings and weekends, and to reduce unwarranted variation in experience.

Nikki and her team will propose a coherent access offer that practices and primary care networks will make both during the day and out of hours, for both physical and digital services.

The first part of the review will report its initial findings by the end of October 2019.

Dr Kanani explained: “This is just the beginning. Over the next year we will review how people access and navigate their care, begin to tackle the health inequalities that exist behind this and set out a credible path to building a diverse and inclusive workforce fit for the 21st century. Primary Care is leading a culture change in the NHS, and I am so pleased to be a part of it.”

Highly respected within the profession, Dr Kanani also spoke out earlier this year when several senior female GPs made claims of a culture of ‘harassment and institutional sexism within the BMA’.

She took an immediate hard-hitting stand on the issue, saying: “The behaviours described by some of my colleagues belong firmly in the past. They have no place in our profession, and no place in our leadership, and we will not stand for ‘everyday sexism’.”