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Priority number one for the new GPC chair

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Just as one election ends, another comes along (although you won’t get a vote in this one).

After Dr Chaand Nagpaul got his next big job at the BMA a vacancy has opened up to lead the GP committee at the union.

Now I know that most of you are not really interested in BMA internal politics (to be honest, I find them a bit tedious sometimes too) but this election is important, for several reasons.

The chair of GPC is a big cheese. One part figurehead and two parts union leader, the chair is one of the most powerful GPs in the country and the person set to lock horns with the new/old health secretary Jeremy Hunt over GP funding, scrapping the QOF and a nationwide ballot on collective GP list closures.

Dr Nagpaul was a competent chair, with what would be – in usual times – a good record of securing new investment in general practice, but I think that even he would admit that despite all his hard work he was not able to shift the mood music in general practice.

And this is what I would like to see addressed by the next chair elected by the GPC next month – whoever it is.

Because the GPs I speak to are desperate for a renewed sense of control over their workload and professional lives. Probably no GPC chair can completely reverse the damage done to general practice over the past decade or so, but the profession is crying out for a leader that provides a vision of what can be done to restore confidence and a sense of purpose to general practice.

And this is not just important for the current generation of GPs. I invited a number of GP trainees into Pulse HQ a few weeks ago and they all told me how important this was too.

They were realistic that general practice was in a bad place and they knew the working life of a GP is difficult sometimes. I mentioned the campaigns to ‘sell’ general practice to them, to snorts of laughter. But while they agreed that they did not want to be patronised and told that ‘everything is fine’, they did tell me what they felt was missing was a sense the leaders of the profession knew what a better future looked like and were working towards it.

I understand that there are two people in the frame for GPC chair and I hope that they engage with the wider GP profession during their election campaign. Whoever wins is going to have a tough job leading such a diverse profession, but I hope that they will rise to the challenge of what I call the ‘morale deficit’ in general practice. It is arguably their most important job.

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse

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Readers' comments (11)

  • Maybe they need to concentrate on a few thing

    The big ticket item would be Medical defence fees - get the government to pay this and indemnify us. Would straight away be more money in general practice and would not be a disincentive to keep working and working more sessions if you wanted

    This is realistic as would cost a fraction of the overall budget but make a big impact

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  • General Practice is being privatised. The new chair needs to discuss with the profession if this is the direction we want to go or not.

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  • Azeem Majeed

    Thank you Nigel. Excellent points.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Dedicate this quote from Wonder Woman(2017) to the incoming chair
    'It is not what you derserve but about what you believe.'

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  • Vinci Ho

    And this as well :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H-1POE0cRs&sns=em

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  • When a new American president is elected he brings his own administration,essentially a new civil service,I like that,real democracy
    1 All members of GPC to resign and reapply
    2 All BMA members to resign
    3 New chair to propose his aims and stratergy
    4 Those who wish to follow to pay dues
    5 Chair to be judged in light of his achievements compared to his aims
    Instead I think we will see beautifully conducted gentlemanly failure

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  • Nigel,
    "Locking horns to scrap QOF"..
    The phrase "Turkeys voting for Christmas" comes to mind.
    Hateful Hunt would like nothing more than to cut a sizeable chunk of our incomes in one hit. Please,let's not INVITE him to.....

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  • GoneDoc

    Medical Defense fees ..crown indemnity
    The government dumps work on GPs and we carry all the risk ..no come back on the government because we're responsible if anything goes wrong...and it is, and we are all paying for it directly now out of our own pockets in our rocketing indemnity fees.
    This carries on and soon it won't make any financial sense going to work ..forget all the other shit...unchecked this issue alone will kill general practice dead in just the next few years.

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    The all you can eat GP buffet has to stop - pay us per consultation and the problem will improve.

    Chand and any other BMA people listening - the new contract negotiations have to stop being unlimited access, instead a fee per consult, telephone consult, and home visit.

    Every blood test, nurse appointment and GP service needs to be costed and funded. If you provide more appointments or services you are funded fairly for them.

    Then it falls on the DOH and NHS England to regulate demand via a national education and advertising program.

    This is the only way Primary care in the UK will survive into the future - or continue to wither and die as the older generation leave, and the new intake can't cope with the long hours and workload.

    The hospitals charge per contact, so should we.

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see :
    You cannot be too robotic in politics. Political reality can change even in ten to fifteen minutes , same timescale when the fire in Grenfell Tower spread ferociously from bottom to the top.
    Terrorists and extremists are to be cold-blooded but politicians representing people , human beings, cannot be seen as lack of humanity. It is as plain as that .
    To call it fatalistic for what had happened last six weeks ever since the PM called the general election is an understatement. Politics is indeed power of 'say' but that say has to reflect the voices of people (instead of populism) . Looking through the politicians sitting in the cabinet of this government , it is fair to say there is no such quality. Instead , there is a very strong display of technocratic bureaucracy with little human sentiment. Both the PM and Chancellor are good candidates for this description. The latter answered Andrew Marr's questions this morning, giving us the impression that this tragedy of Grenfell Tower was just another serious incident which required an inquiry, whatever it is called now , and he would not answer 'technical' questions because to be politically correct , he was not an expert. The vibes he sent out remained 'cold'.
    For us , how long have we been 'moaning' (as Simon Stevens commented previously) about the safety of patients, hence people , because of the way this government managing the distribution of resources in NHS . Honesty and humility are long overdue. In a way , it is not much different from the local communities as well as professionals(from fire service, for instance ) giving warnings repeatedly to the hierarchy of Chelsea and Kensington Borough in the case of Grenfell Tower . Of course , safety recommendations were already made to previous governments (including Labour way back in 2000) and ignored . Similarly, we have been warning the health secretary about the thresholds of ceiling of GP workloads as well as minimum number of GPs(equal argument for secondary care)to ensure safety to our patients . One can argue that there is a fine line between scaremongering and danger recognition. It is clearly too little too late when you have a disaster like Grenfell Tower.
    It may be only slightly unfair to go completely for the scalp of the prime minister and ask her to resign , giving the complex political , economic and social circumstances the country is situated right this moment. I would give the benefit of doubt that she did cry and offer empathy to the victim representatives yesterday in Downing Street's closed door meeting . But that does not necessarily rectify the robotic and technocratic display on her first appearance immediately after the fire. One can argue the Labour leader could have 'played with politics' when greeting the victims on the ground but that can never negate the normal human touch required in a situation like this . Frankly , the Queen and Prince Edward , doing the same , are always politically neutral .
    The remembrance of Jo Cox this weekend clearly reminds us it is ultimately about people and what kind of country, with listening and accommodations, should be . The responses from all local communities , firefighters, emergency services and NHS in Grenfell Tower fire demonstrated the values and virtues of humanity , putting human differences aside.
    I might have played with sound bites when I called the last three elected governments(from 2010) :of the GDP , by the GDP and for the GDP . But isn't it the time we must reinstate the great words of Abraham Lincoln over 150 years ago (Gettysburg , 1863)?
    As I said before , differences were allowed to ferment into division and prejudice . Arrogance and bigotry are then the catalysts for actions against others in our society. But in fact , that is also true to inactions. This is perhaps the latest meaning of idleness, one of original Five Giant Evils of William Beveridge.
    So much soul searching and introspection for our political leaders...........

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