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At the heart of general practice since 1960

The rewards and challenges of running an LMC

Dr Nigel Watson, nominated in Pulse’s Power 50 list as the leader of ‘the best LMC in the country’, explains what his job as chief executive involves

What’s the most common assumption GPs make about your role?

That I no longer see patients. When they find I am still a partner in a practice they are often surprised about how enthusiastic I am about being a GP.

What’s the best thing about working for an LMC?

Variety. No two days are the same, and the reward is helping patients, GPs and practices in many different ways.

In a nutshell, what does being the chief executive of an LMC entail?

My role is one of leadership, representation, working on behalf of GPs and supporting the committee. In an average day I might have meetings with the local area team, support practices making tough decisions like closing a list, and work with medical directors at local hospitals to improve co-working and integration with primary care.

How did you first get involved?

My senior partner used to sit on a district GP committee and when I joined the practice, he asked me to replace him. After a few years I got a bit fed up but as I was about to resign I was made chair. This committee then merged into the LMC and I was elected chair; I’m now chief executive of Wessex LMCs.

What do you find most challenging?

There aren’t enough hours in the day. I work in my practice two days a week and in the LMC three days, and have national roles as well, such as sitting on the GPC and NHS England’s GP strategic commissioning group. Being LMC chief executive could easily be a full-time job so I have to manage my time well.

How is the LMC work reimbursed?

I am paid a salary for the work I do as I am an employee of the LMC. The salary is less than a CCG chair would get but more than a BMA committee member.

What is your career highlight so far?

Qualifying as a doctor. I scraped into medical school – I definitely would not have got in today. So passing my final exams first time was a huge achievement.

If you weren’t a medic, what would you like to be doing for a living?

Something in business – as long as I was running the company. But money has never been a motivator. If I won the lottery, I would continue as a GP and LMC chief executive – although I might consider buying a golf course.

How would your patients describe you?

Approachable, friendly, and direct, if recent patient feedback is to be believed.

What’s the worst thing a patient has ever said to you?

About a year after I started as a GP, a patient stood up during a consultation and said he was going to hit me. I stood up too and replied that that was not a good idea as I was bigger. I found out later that he had earlier assaulted one of my GP colleagues. Six months later, the patient was imprisoned for GBH. 

What makes you angry?

I rarely get angry, but GP-bashing in the media bothers me.

What trait do you most deplore in your colleagues?

Not caring enough. I always want to do my best, whether that is for a patient or when representing GPs, and I believe others should do the same.

What’s the best piece of advice your GP trainer gave you?

Always put the patient first.

What have you given up to be a GP?

All GPs know that, given the long hours, family life suffers. Luckily my wife is also a GP and she has been very supportive of my work in medical politics.

Dr Nigel Watson is CEO of Wessex LMCs and a GP in New Forest

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