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Early warnings for new RCGP chair

The RCGP is under pressure to deliver a shift in strategic direction and a more ‘pragmatic approach' as its new chair prepares to take the helm next week.

GPs warned the college had been ‘naïve' in some of its dealings with the Department of Health and needed to step up its efforts to promote the interests of the profession.

Professor Stephen Field is due to take over the reins as RCGP chair from Professor Mayur Lakhani – a controversial figure at times – on 16 November.

But Professor Field is yet to spell out his vision for the college, and particularly whether he will adopt a less cosy relationship with ministers than his predecessor.

Members of the college told Pulse the role of college chair was in some ways a ‘poisoned chalice', because of the difficulty maintaining a constructive relationship with the Government while remaining on-side with GPs.

Professor Lakhani's tenure saw its share of ups and downs, with a particular low in June last year, when the college was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after discussing a so-called star rating scheme for practices with ministers.

Dr Dinesh Kapoor, a member of the RCGP board in North East London, admitted Professor Lakhani had had a ‘challenging time' at the helm.

‘He was given a poisoned chalice you could call it. As a chair of the RCGP, if you are pulled up in front of ministers, and they said you've got to get GPs reviewed, it's difficult.'

Dr Bhargawa Vasudaven, a GP in Gravesend, said the star ratings fiasco had alienated many GPs: ‘Star ratings was a useless exercise. The college should not have gone along with it and I think it did spoil the relationship with GPs.'

Dr Ivan Bennett, PEC chair at Central Manchester PCT and a GP in the city, said he thought Professor Lakhani had been ‘naïve' in his handling of the controversy.

He said: ‘The college needs leadership based a little more in the pragmatics of the real world, and a little less in the ivory tower thinking everyone's a nice guy.'

Professor Field was unwilling to talk to Pulse, but told the college's website: ‘As a GP educator and frontline clinician, I am well aware of the of the major challenges – and opportunities – facing modern general practice and am look-ing forward to taking the RCGP into the next exciting stage of its development.'

Who is Professor Stephen Field? Who is Professor Stephen Field?

Professor Field, moves from his role as chair of the college's professional development board, spearheading the roll out of the new GP training curriculum, which came into force in August this year.
Professor Field has an extensive background in GP educa-tion. He is head of workforce at NHS West Midlands and honorary professor of medical education at the University of Warwick. Despite all this, he continues to practise as a GP in inner-city Birmingham.
Professor Field will know he has not left the star ratings controversy entirely behind. Plans to implement some form of accreditation scheme have continued apace, and will be prominent in his in-tray as he takes charge.

Professor Stephen Field: takes over as RCGP chair this month Professor Stephen Field: takes over as RCGP chair this month

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