A day in the life: Leading the Welsh GPC
Dr Charlotte Jones describes her work as a GP, chair of the Welsh GPC and a GPC negotiator
Role: Chair of Welsh General Practitioners Committee (which gives me a place on the GPC UK negotiating team and seats on some Welsh committees)
Place of work: A split-site practice in Swansea, south Wales, and BMA headquarter in Cardiff
Hours worked per week: Varies depending on what is happening in each role – about 60-70
Alarm goes off. I consider turning over and having ‘another half an hour’ but reality kicks in and I get up. I go for a run as I am training for the Edinburgh Hairy Haggis relay –no mean feat for a confirmed stiletto-wearer. I bought my last pair of trainers during college and they still look pristine.
On the days I don’t go for a run I tidy the house.
07.00: Shower and breakfast, then fortify myself to get my two teens up. Make a coffee and head off.
07.45 – 08.00: Drive to work whilst having a phone catch-up chat with my husband, who works in Oldham in the week. When he rings off, I sing along to The Wave or Radio 2.
08.00: In surgery, sign and update the avalanche of prescriptions on my desk, action bloods in my Task Manager, chat with the colleagues working with me that morning, then call in the first patient. (Any tasks on Docman will have to wait).
08.30 – 11.40: Morning surgery. Although patients are allocated 10-minute slots, most take more, so I have two catch-up slots built in. If I’m running to time, I use the slots to call back the four patients who want telephone consultations (every partner at the practice has these). If patients need to be seen I add them to the bottom of the surgery list.
If there are no ‘extra’ (same-day) patients (and this is rare) then there is always a list of callbacks I can crack on with.
12.45: Leave surgery to do a few home visits or get in the car and set off for meetings across Wales. The role of GPC Wales chair takes me far and wide, especially after conclusion of the annual contract negotiation. It is great to get out and about meeting colleagues and taking forward issues that affect Welsh GPs.
13.00: If I am working at GPC Wales in the afternoon then this will usually mean travelling to Cardiff or London for meetings. So much has been happening over the last six months (not just the contract negotiations) that it has been really busy. All issues and meetings require significant time to prepare, reading/writing papers and attending meetings before reporting back to the Welsh or UK team.
Meetings might be with GP practices, Welsh civil servants, bodies like RCGP Wales, Royal College of Nursing, Community Health Councils, or the Chief Medical Officer, Assembly Members (AMs) or Members of Parliament (MPs).
GPC Wales gives specific areas of responsibility to each member. My focus for the next year is on workforce issues (recruitment and retention), supporting and developing GP networks in Wales, and mitigating the unintended consequence of losing MPIG payments (due to commence in April 2015).
Most of the meetings I attend are a useful opportunity to ensure the views of GPs are put forward, but I feel frustrated at times that the same ground is covered again and again in meetings with no meaningful outcomes. Thankfully these are few and far between.
I always aim to promote how GPC Wales and BMA Cymru as professional experts. Some union members think that we are not interested in anything other than the terms and conditions of service, which is a shame. We have a wealth of expertise within GPC Wales and BMA Cymru – I wish we had more of a chance to use it.
18:00: Drive home and enjoy the opportunity to listen to some of my favourite music. I find driving quite relaxing, which is lucky, given the amount of time I spend travelling.
19:00: Cook tea, chat with children and find out what has been happening with the day. Make sure somebody has fed Daisy our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and that and Granny has walked the dog. Daisy thinks she is my third child.
Sit down with kids for tea – phones are banned during meals.
After dinner I tidy up, open letters or chat with friends and family on the phone with cup of tea.
20:45: Write reports from the days’ meeting, answer emails, write papers, letters or media articles, and read papers for forthcoming meetings – whatever needs doing as part of my GPC Wales or UK role.
21:45: Take a short break to try and cajole kids into bed, usually followed by a bellowed reminder up the stairs 15 minutes later, and a quick check half an hour after that to ensure that all IT gadgets are off. They forget I was young once too…
23:50: I climb into bed around midnight.