Dr Richard Vautrey is an accomplished operator: authoritative, but with a knack of translating often-complicated subjects into clear messages.
And as the deputy chair of the GPC, these skills are invaluable as he is the day-to-day voice of the GPC, often representing GPs on television and in the newspapers.
He was nominated by colleagues as an ‘extremely able communicator’ and he is well-known in the Pulse office as the man to ask for the inside track on the latest whacky scheme from the Department of Health.
And the Leeds GP has had some success in getting his point across over the past year.
Dr Vautrey declared that plans to abolish practice boundaries were a ‘risk to patient safety’ . When NICE recommended practices check patients’ heating was working every year, he memorably said ‘there’s no point GPs rushing round with thermometers’.
But behind the scenes, he has also been working hard. One practice was particularly grateful for Dr Vautrey’s help after it was hit with a breach notice after ‘informally’ closing its list.
And he has discomfited ministers with his sterling work on behalf of the GPC in making the general practice crisis front-page news during the election.
Dr Vautrey says: ‘Making general practice and the need to recruit more GPs one of the main issues of the general election was a major achievement and was down to the lobbying and campaigning we’d been doing, with politicians of all major parties at last listening to the concerns of GPs and patients.’
He puts much of this down to the ‘massive response of 15,560 GPs replying to our GPC survey’, which he pushed forward.
But this is a high-stakes approach. And the GPC has yet to win major progress on reducing the workload of GPs or increasing funding.
Dr Vautrey understands the challenges ahead. His aims for next year include working on new GP contract negotiations, persuading the Government to deal with the problems of seven-day GP access and ‘holding them to account’ on their promise of 5,000 additional GPs. And you cannot help but wish him luck.