Dr Berge Balian

Chair of the Symphony Programme Board

Dr Berge Balian

What influenced your decision to work in General Practice?

My intention when I was in medical school for the first few years, wasn’t general practice, I was quite interested in neuroscience and my ambition was to be a neurosurgeon.

Then I went and spent a week working in Queen’s Square Hospital and at the end of that week I decided it wasn’t for me because I like talking to people and being involved.

What’s the best thing about being a GP?

The power of general practice is that you have a relationship with patients, you get to know them, they get to know you over a long period of time and that allows you to help them manage their lives and their medical condition.

It’s a sort of hybrid between classical scientific medicine but also social work, mental health work and there’s a huge attraction to having that variety in your career, particularly one that you’re going to have for thirty years.

Could you describe what Symphony is?

It is a Vanguard programme, which are areas of the country that have been selected to try different stuff out and we’re something called the PACS Vanguard, which is bringing hospitals and GPs closer together.

Our ambition is to bring all parts of the system together. The main aim of the Vanguards is to change how the NHS system works for patients.

We have the ability to move resources from one part of the system to the other. The ambition is to take the most expensive part of the system – which is the hospital, and reduce the activity in the hospital and move the savings into primary care.

If you invest money in primary care, your pound goes further and so we have already put our money where our mouth is and have invested about £10million into GP practices in Somerset.

There are 19 GP practices in South Somerset and 18 of them are involved in the Symphony programme.

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