Michael Dixon (doctor)

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Michael Dixon LVO, OBE, MA, FRCGP is an English general practitioner and healthcare leader. He served as chair of the NHS Alliance[1] from 1998 to 2015 and is a past President of the NHS Clinical Commissioners.[2] He also chairs the College of Medicine. He is a visiting professor at University College London[3] and the University of Westminster[3] and National Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing (NHS England).[4]

Michael Dixon


Dixon studied psychology and philosophy at University of Oxford before studying medicine at Guy’s Hospital. He is Senior Partner at College Surgery in Cullompton, Devon, where he has practiced as a GP since 1984.[5] In 2007 he and his GP partners in Cullompton, Devon created the "Culm Valley Integrated Centre for Health", which has been seen as a model for the future of general practice and was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in 2015.[6][7]

His national appointments have included membership of the National Leadership Network for Health and Social Care, the National Stakeholder Forum and National Steering Group for GP Commissioning. He is an Honorary Senior Fellow in Public Policy at HSMC University of Birmingham,[8] Honorary Senior /Lecturer in Integrated Health at the Peninsula Medical School.

He has been active in the commissioning movement since the early 1990s, when he co-founded the Mid Devon Family Doctors Commissioning Group.[9] Since then he has campaigned for the right of GPs and practices to have a role in improving local health and services and been a prime mover in developing GP commissioning models that will allow them to do so. He sat on the National Executive of the National Association of Commissioning GPs (NACGP) - founded in 1993, and was a co-writer of its document "Restoring the Vision" (1997), which was commissioned by the then Minister of Health, Alan Milburn.[10] When NACGP became NHS Alliance in 1998, he was elected Chairman and has continued in this role by annual election until he announced his retirement in 2015.[11] He is a frequent speaker and national advisor on GP commissioning and co-author of a number of books and chapters in this area (e.g. The Locality Commissioning Handbook [12](1998, Radcliffe Press) and A Practical Guide to Primary Care Groups and Trusts (2001) Radcliffe Press).[13]

Past ministerial appointments include Chair of the NHS LifeCheck Board and Practice Based Commissioning Advisor to Lord Darzi. He is a past President of the Health Writers Guild[8] and was previously Senior Advisor of the King’s Fund and Steering Group member of the King’s Fund Enquiry on General Practice [14]

Since 2010, he has been Chair of the College of Medicine,[15] which emphasises the importance of non-biomedical interventions in health and care, which include social prescription, lifestyle interventions and complementary and traditional approaches.[16]

He was listed in the top ten most influential clinical leaders in the Health Service Journal 2013.[17] He has been listed among the Pulse (magazine) most influential GPs for several years.[18]

Honours and appointments[edit]

  • LVO (2015)
  • OBE (2001)
  • Visiting Professor University College of London
  • Visiting Professor Westminster University
  • Honorary Senior Fellow, HSMC Birmingham University
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer Peninsula Medical School, Exeter
  • Medical Advisor to the Prince of Wales

Social prescribing[edit]

He has pioneered social prescribing in his Devon GP practice for several years,[19] arguing it is an answer to over medicalisation and soaring health costs. Social prescription facilitates patients with a range of social, psychological and physical problems to access a wide range of local interventions and services provided by the voluntary and volunteer sectors and others.[20] In 2015 he co-founded the National Social Prescribing Steering Group, which he co-chairs.[21] This leads a network created in 2016,[22] which has over 500 members active in social prescription with eight Clinical Commissioning Groups now offering universal provision.[23] In June 2016 he was appointed National Clinical Champion for Social Prescription (NHS England)[19] and his ambition is that social prescription should be available to every patient and GP.

Complementary medicine[edit]

His other main field of interest is complementary medicine. Co-author of The Human Effect (Radcliffe Press 2000), he believes in "patient centred medicine" and the role of the patient in self healing. Reviewing the book, David Short, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Aberdeen writes "the authors urge doctors to move beyond the idea of the body as a machine. If doctors do indeed regard their patients in this way, then this book is timely. One cannot help feeling that what is advocated is really a return to best practice of family doctors of an earlier generation. Perhaps the authors recognise this in saying 'what is called for is less of a revolution and more of a revival'"[24]

Dixon describes his approach to medicine in the BBC Radio 4 programme Healthy Visions which especially focuses on prevention and looking at the whole lives of patients.[25] He argues that it is beneficial to 'break down the boundaries' between orthodox and complementary medicine, and that an increasing number of GPs are doing so.[26]

In a paper for the British Journal of General Practice The physician healer: ancient magic or modern science? he writes "it seems that the physician healer is now poised to rise again like a phoenix, not on a wave of nostalgia, but because modern science demands it. Placebo research and psychoneuroimmunology are beginning to clarify a role in which caring is no longer an act of compassion or indulgence but has everything to do with curing or in the preferred modern term 'effectiveness'".[27]

He was the medical director of The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health, which closed in 2010 after its finance director was arrested for stealing £253,000 from the organisation.[28] Dixon is a director of the College of Medicine which opened in 2010[29][30] with former Chair of the General Medical Council Sir Graeme Catto as its President. He has been criticised by professor of complementary medicine and alternative medicine campaigner Edzard Ernst for advocating the use of complementary medicine. Ernst said that the stance of the NHS Alliance on complementary medicine was "misleading to the degree of being irresponsible."[31] Ernst had previously been sympathetic to building a bridge between complementary and mainstream medicine, co-writing an article with Michael Dixon in 1997 on the benefits of such an approach.[32] Ernst and Dixon write "missed diagnoses by complementary therapists giving patients long term treatments are often cited but in the experience of one of the authors (MD) are extremely rare. It can also cut both ways. A patient was recently referred back to her general practitioner by an osteopath, who was questioning, as it turned out quite correctly, whether her pain was caused by metastates. Good communication between general practitioner and complementary therapist can reduce conflicts and contradictions, which otherwise have the potential to put orthodox medicine and complementary therapy in an either/or situation."


  • The Locality Commissioning Handbook (Radcliffe Press 1997),
  • The Human Effect (Radcliffe Press 2000)
  • A Practical Guide to Primary Care Groups and Trusts (Radcliffe Press 2000)
  • Practice-based Commissioning: From good idea to effective practice 2007
  • Co-author of many NHS Alliance documents including Implementing the Vision (2000) and Vision in Practice (2002), Breaking Boundaries (2012) and Think Big, Act Now (2014). He has written a number of original research papers mainly covering areas of general practice.
  • He has previously been a health columnist for "SHE" magazine.

Personal life[edit]

In his free time, he gardens and fishes whenever possible.[citation needed] His wife, Joanna, is a professional artist and they have three children, two of whom are GPs and the other working in health and science policy.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "NHS Alliance". Archived from the original on 31 December 2009.
  2. ^ "NHS Clinical Commissioners - Michael Dixon". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Dr Michael Dixon". 25 December 2015. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Pulse Today: GP leader appointed clinical champion for social prescribing". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  5. ^ "College Surgery (Culm Valley)". www.collegesurgery.org.uk. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  6. ^ "College Surgery (Culm Valley) - Care Quality Commission". www.collegesurgery.org.uk. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Michael Dixon: the value of volunteering in health and social care" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Honorary staff - University of Birmingham". www.birmingham.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Eastern Devon – Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group". www.newdevonccg.nhs.uk.
  10. ^ "History of NHS Alliance". Archived from the original on 21 December 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Dixon to step down as NHS Alliance chair". Pulse. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  12. ^ The Locality commissioning handbook: From vision to reality: Michael Dixon, Topsy Murray, David Jenner, Sandy Macara, Andrew Willis: 9781857752724: Amazon.com: Books. ISBN 978-1857752724.
  13. ^ "A Practical Guide to Primary Care Groups and Trusts". Radcliffe Publishing. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Inquiry into the quality of general practice in England: inquiry panel". The King's Fund. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  15. ^ "College of Medicine team". 16 April 2017. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  16. ^ "About us". 8 August 2012. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Top 10 | HSJ Clinical Leaders 2013". hsjclinicalleaders2013.wrender.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  18. ^ "PULSE | GP news, views, jobs and education | A dedicated service for GPs since 1960". www.pulsetoday.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  19. ^ a b "GP leader appointed clinical champion for social prescribing". Pulse Today. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  20. ^ Traverse social prescribing http://traverse.ltd
  21. ^ "New national network launched to promote social prescribing". National Health Executive. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Social prescribing network". University of Westminster. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  23. ^ Local Government Association http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/7632544/L16-108+Just+what+the+doctor+ordered+-+social+prescribing+-+a+guide+to+local+authorities/f68612fc-0f86-4d25-aa23-56f4af33671d Archived 2016-12-20 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ David Short, Emeritus professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Triple Helix, Winter 2001
  25. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Healthy Visions, Do I Need the Doctor?". BBC. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  26. ^ "One in five GPs now offer alternative care". Independent. 6 October 2000. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  27. ^ British Journal of General Practice, April 1999 http://bjgp.org/content/49/441/309
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "College of Medicine". College of Medicine. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  30. ^ Nigel Hawkes (2010). "Prince's foundation metamorphoses into new College of Medicine". Vol. 341. British Medical Journal. p. 6126. doi:10.1136/bmj.c6126.
  31. ^ February 2009, 24. "Academics and NHS Alliance clash over complementary medicine". Pulse Today.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Upate - the journal of continuing education for General Practitioners, 7 May 1997