If the profession could canonise Dr Peter Swinyard, it would. Nominators said he ‘keeps it grassroots and relevant’, is ‘not afraid of politicians’ and ‘does not curry favour’.
And it is this independence of spirit as chair of the Family Doctor Association (FDA) that means he remains an important voice in general practice.
Dr Swinyard says his biggest challenge this year has been the loss of his wife, but he was heartened by the response of one of his patients.
‘A patient welcomed me back to the practice last September, but asked if I needed to take more time off and that they would wait for me,’ he says.
And that illustrates the reasons for Dr Swinyard’s passion for the work of general practice and its unique relationship with patients.
Looking ahead, Dr Swinyard says he’s aiming to refocus the FDA to put forward even more strongly the need for patients to have ‘their’ doctor, the importance of continuity of care and the need to fight for practice survival.
He says the current situation is untenable. ‘It is the most hostile atmosphere I have experienced in 36 years in medicine – and I qualified in the year in which junior doctors went on strike over hours and pay and conditions.’
He adds: ‘Where has the fire in the belly gone from the BMA to fight our corner?’