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RCGP leader makes the case for change

Professor Mayur Lakhani is angry. 'Can we just knock that on the head?' he demands.

Professor Mayur Lakhani is angry. 'Can we just knock that on the head?' he demands.

'It's untrue and unfair. We've been given this task like all the other royal colleges. It's not about money, it's about standards.'The 19th chair of the RCGP is delivering a fierce riposte to the suggestion that the college is taking part in revalidation with an eye on its bank balance.He says he has no idea where the accusations that the college is in it for the money stem from.

'The fact is it's a new responsibility for us. I regard it as a privilege and we're there to support doctors, not to bring in hard stuff for them to do,' he says. 'At this time we need to work together, to pull together, and we're working very closely within the profession to develop this. I think it's unhelpful to then have a small minority who question our motives.

'Professor Lakhani's combative stance is fitting for a chair whose tenure has been one of the more controversial in the college's history. He went through tough times when proposals for an accreditation scheme provoked fury among the profession and he is currently in the midst of discussions about what shape recertification, the college's contribution to the new era of regulation, will take.

Membership has risen under his leadership, although the RCGP still has a lower proportion of its target group signed up than other royal colleges, and he has overseen plans to move its headquarters to a new site. The move from the characterful but slightly dilapidated Hyde Park mansion used by the SAS in the 1980 Iranian embassy siege to a bold, new, purpose-built complex parallels the situation in which the college currently finds itself.

Professor Lakhani evidently sees his last six months in post as an opportunity to silence his detractors and establish the RCGP's position as a forward-looking organisation at the cutting edge of medical training and education.

He has set the wheels in motion for a recertification steering group and says he hopes the revalidation process will be as pain-free as possible.He also hopes to redraw the boundaries with the deaneries, wanting a greater role for the college in CPD and recertification support, with the deaneries continuing to train registrars.

'There's a need to bring clarity. I'm very keen that we avoid bureaucracy and red tape and that it's very clear who does what and when. The most difficult thing will be if people don't engage with it or try and filibuster it.'He adds: 'I think people should see this as a strengthening of professionalism.'

No high-stakes exam

Current plans for recertification, though at an early stage, are to minimise GPs' workload through close synergies with the GMC's relicensing work.

Professor Lakhani says the scheme will definitely not involve a 'mandatory high stakes examination' and will use data already gathered through a much higher standard of appraisal and relicensing.It is also likely to involve a clinical portfolio, a requirement to keep up to date, CPD work and assessment of communication skills.

'We are not going to make it complex,' he says. 'We want people to be recertified – that's our starting point and we expect the majority of doctors to achieve recertification.'That said, there will be nowhere to hide for doctors who do not make the grade.

'If you're on the GP register of the GMC then you have to meet the standards of the generalist register, which is recertification,' he says. There are plans to use GPs at the college's 33 faculties to provide support for doctors undergoing the process.

One of the biggest challenges Professor Lakhani sees facing the profession is 'making sure the role of GPs is understood and valued'. He will not stray into debate on pay and pensions, which he says is the GPC's domain, but he complains: 'MMC worked very well for GPs. When things go well, we don't get any praise.'

He points to the college's recent rebuttal of a report criticising GPs for an out-of-hours service for which they are no longer responsible as another example of its championing approach.

He says: 'It becomes habitual for a small minority to knock the college but it's unacceptable. It's got to stop. I'm very happy to have a dialogue with these people – the evidence speaks for itself.'

Reflecting on his time at the top, he says: 'Leadership is about highs and lows and it's around learning and moving forward from that. I'm not saying everything is okay but we've got a good team, lots to do, and in terms of where the change is going, judge me by that.

'I've not got everything right but I think it's for others to judge how things have gone. But I've still got six months to go.'

CV Professor Mayur Lakhani

• Youngest-ever chair of the RCGP council

• Fellow of the RCGP and the Royal College of Physicians

• Practising GP in Sileby, Leicestershire

Lakhani on...


'This is not about money, it's about standards'

The RCGP's detractors

'I'm very happy to have a dialogue with these people – the evidence speaks for itself'

MMC for GPs

'Do you ever hear anyone saying "Thank you, well done, one bit of the system is working really well"?'

His stint in charge

'I'm not saying everything is okay but we've got a good team, lots to do, and in terms of where the change is going, judge me by that'

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