6. Dr Maureen Baker
Steady hand on the RCGP tiller
Dr Maureen Baker comes in at number six in the 2013 Pulse Power 50. She is a new entry in this year’s list.
Dr Maureen Baker, who succeeds Professor Clare Gerada as RCGP chair next month, takes the helm at the college at a potentially tricky time.
This year saw staff redundancies as the college balanced its books, while an expensive legal battle over the clinical skills examination is dragging on.
Her experience should equip her to be a steady hand in a crisis, she shot to prominence as the RCGP’s lead during the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and her regular bulletins made her a recognised name.
But she is likely to mark a change in style of the leadership at the college. In her first interview after being elected she told Pulse that the college’s role was not ‘fundamentally to challenge Government’.
While her predecessor took a high-profile stance against the Health and Social Care Act, Dr Baker says she will be looking for the ‘most productive way to raise issues and get changes’.
Dr Baker is clinical director for patient safety at the Health and Social Care Information Centre and was honorary secretary of the RCGP from 1999 to 2009.
She has also held posts at the National Patient Safety Agency, NHS Direct and the University of Nottingham - part of an academic career in which she has contributed to over 50 journal and book publications.
Dr Baker received a CBE for services to medicine in 2004 and added to her honours in 2009 with the RCGP Foundation Council Award for meritorious services to general practice - not bad for the eldest of six children from a deprived area of Lanarkshire who has been earning her own money since she was 14.
Described by our panel as a ‘thinker, not the Department of Health’s mouthpiece as some of the past chairs have been’, college-watchers can expect a renewed emphasis on academic and professional matters.
Tellingly, Dr Baker sees herself as a grassroots GP and dismisses any suggestion that her career has been spent in ivory towers of one kind or another.
‘If I’m in an ivory tower it´s because I’ve shot the elephants, poached the ivory and constructed the tower all by myself,’ she says.