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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Battle lines drawn in race for RCGP president

By Gareth Iacobucci

Candidates have begun drawing out their battle lines as the race to become the new president of the RCGP gets under way.

Voting opens today, with three candidates in the running to succeed Professor David Haslam.

They are Dr Iona Heath, a GP in Kentish Town, North London; Dr Una Coales, a GP in Stockwell in South London; and Dr Has Joshi, a GP in Pontypool, South Wales.

As the candidates prepare to face a postal vote from all 36,000 members of the College, a debate is already surfacing about the definition of the role.

While Dr Coales says she would use the platform to give a stronger voice to grassroots GPs, Dr Heath says the role is not about having a ‘raging' political agenda.

The role is largely ceremonial, but Dr Coales, who has also voiced her opposition to revalidation, said the election is an opportunity try to reverse the perception among some GPs that the College is ‘too cosy' with the Government.

‘Basically, I want to close the perceived gap between the RCGP and the grassroots GP. I want the RCGP to be more of a GPs' advocate,' she said.

However, Dr Heath said the President's job was to act as a figurehead of the College and support GPs, not to have a ‘raging' political manifesto.

‘The president is not an executive role. There's not much point in having a raging political manifesto, that's not what the role is about, but we do want to be supportive to GP members.' she said.

Dr Heath added: ‘I think GPs do a great job for the NHS; we want to try and support ordinary GPs who hold the health service together. I've been on Council, and I can understand what one can and can't achieve.'

RCGP Chair Professor Steve Field compared the role to that of the Queen.

‘The president of our college is ceremonial; it's not involved in policy, education or policy development. It's about representing the College just like the Queen would represent England,' he said.

All 36,000 RCGP members are eligible to vote, with the College posting ballots this week.

The College will officially announce the winner at its June Council meeting. The new president, who will hold the post for three years, will take over from Professor Haslam in November.

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