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21. Dr Robert Morley

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One GP told Pulse of a novel way of improving his LMC’s service to GPs: ‘clone Dr Robert Morley’. It is an understandable sentiment.

The executive secretary of Birmingham LMC has remained a thorn in the side of the CQC and over-zealous local area teams, and can be relied on to unerringly reflect the mood of the profession.

He chairs the GPC contracts and regulation subcommittee and led the charge against the CQC’s ‘risk ratings’ of GP practices in December, warning the regulator not to publish them.

His warnings were ignored, but perhaps it would have been better had the CQC heeded his wisdom as the regulator subsequently had to withdraw the ratings and apologise after it turned out they were based on dodgy data.

Dr Morley says he regrets not being able to ‘completely remove the burden of CQC registration and inspection processes’ from GPs.

But he adds: ‘Significant damage limitation has been achieved, including obtaining considerable improvements to the “intelligent monitoring” shambles and ensuring far more consistency and more sensible judgments in local inspection processes.’

Elsewhere, on a national level, he negotiated with NHS England for practices to be allowed to close their patient lists informally without fear of breach notices, and was able to dampen NHS England local area teams’ enthusiasm for punishing practices for closing early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in his area.

But it is perhaps his work as a local leader that has made him such a formidable character in the national GPC.

His biggest achievement of the year is, he says, helping to support and advise many struggling individual GPs and practices. He adds that he has been involved in providing ‘pastoral care to more stressed GPs than at any time in my career’.

Dr Morley has also been successful in negotiating a seven-year period of transitional support for PMS practices switching to GMS, and has – as he puts it – ‘avoided a catastrophe’ by making the LMC the ‘lone voice’ against plans to roll out an ill-planned data-sharing scheme in the West Midlands.

He is a vital bulwark against meddling regulators and jobsworth bureaucrats. Bravo.

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