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A faulty production line

The RCGP must learn to put its members first

Letter from Dr Nicola Waldman, Merton

It’s been suggested that our chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard has become a quisling because she’s been photographed smiling next to Jeremy Hunt.

Is that unfair? And does it actually matter? Google her name and Jeremy Hunt’s. After six pages of standard Google searches, and another six of Google images, I found absolutely nothing about the two of them that suggested meaningful discussion was occurring. This suggests to me that the average Joe on the street has no idea that they have met, and has no interest in what was discussed. So, the only people who notice how our chair is interacting with the health secretary is us GPs.

The debate has centred around how the media photo was perceived. Seriously? We’re debating the nuances in a photo? Why are we not asking what was discussed in the meeting? What the college put forward as critical issues to resolve and where the line in the sand that we as a profession have agreed as a baseline?

This train of thought reminded me of Bob Crow. He’s been dead for three years, but EVERY link on the first page of my next Google search demonstrates how effective a negotiator he was. How did he do this? Well, by really engaging with and listening to the views of the members of his union and finding the common ground of opinion which united the union members behind him with support. This meant that when the negotiations did not reach agreement, the members were prepared to take action. A union which does not have the power of a united membership behind it is easy to negotiate with, as the worst that can happen if agreement is not reached is that there will be a lot of disgruntled members.

Yes, the RCGP is not a union, but the principle is the same. In order to have effective discussions with the Secretary of State for health that have significant impact, the College needs to find a way of better engaging with the membership to gain support. Without this, the RCGP is an organisation whose members are disengaged and not united.

That is not a position which is going to effect the change our profession needs.



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Readers' comments (9)

  • The RCGP is not a union - basically sums it up.

    Let's not conflate the roles of the college and the GPC. The college do that themselves often enough.

    Let the college stick to its remit- quality, standards and training. And let them campaign hard for the unsustainable working conditions impacting on safety and quality.

    But let the GPC do all the negotiations. I think that is where your frustrations lie.

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  • Cobblers

    Agree with Shaba.

    Quality, Standards and Training. More than enough.

    Stop metastasising into areas where you are unsuited and unwanted.

    Stop the silliness where, I am told, the RCGP may screenprint any adverse GP comments on one of the many GP Facebook pages.

    To do what? Suppress valid criticism? Do them a favour and remove their membership?

    (Don't bother look me up as never have been a member)

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  • Shaba is correct. RCGP has a remit for standards and quality. Government policy may impact on this. RCGP can comment on that and thus workforce and morale consequences.

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  • Sorry folks, but rcgp have NO role in negotiating my contract with hmg, and I am glad of that piece of reality,
    What I would value is some comment from them as to how they will liaise with over 1000 gps in Northern Ireland who may just leave the NHS for good.....
    I don't expect a quick response on this issue

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  • Where RCGP have failed is that it has pushed through changes in training and the use of e-portfolio which have proved to be disastrous, yet fail to acknowledge their role in the fiasco.

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  • One of the main factors is that 80% of GPs cite overwork. Overwork leads to multiple problems [ stress and depression, burnout, errors]
    But what is Normal work in numbers seen everyday ?Most Royal colleges define safety in numbers.
    The RCGP does not.
    To me, that is the first and foremost thing the RCGP should do.
    Define safety.
    This may not be compatible with the John Wayne Contract, so we are thinking of list closures and declaring Black alerts and so on. But look at the primary reason of overwork. Define it, RCGP.

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  • I agree that they aren't a union but they should be supportive to " coalface" GP's Ideas ,Concerns and Expectations
    ( See what did there!!)

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  • This is about a photo I haven't seen, a meeting I haven't heard of and a topic I know nothing about. If the punchline is that RCGP should consider its membership's welfare more than its Board's, then, who said that romanticism is dead.
    To hazard a guess, the topic was whether a KBE was more appropriate than the traditional CBE for our "leaders".

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  • Tom Caldwell

    If the RCGP wishes to represent GPs, and according to their strategy statements they do, then the fact they are not a union doesn't matter. Unfortunately for us RCGP has decided to mission creep into representing GPs rather than stay with educational standards.

    Given they are going to represent us to the media we owe it to ourselves to ensure we make representation to them as to what our views are.

    Sadly when I've done this I've been told my views differ from their oh so precious member survey. I think the college has followed a policy of appeasement with the government for so long now that they are locked into it. And what has the appeasement achieved... empty political promises and GPFV as their only policy to save GP.

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