If this year’s general election didn’t prove how far Professor Clare Gerada will go to stick to her principles, then nothing will.
She quit her role as an adviser with NHS England in April in a bid to speak out against what she referred to as the Conservatives’‘desperate quest for privatisation’, telling Pulse at the time that she saw her ‘bigger role’ as a whistleblower on NHS policy.
Professor Gerada also organised 140 doctors to sign an open letter criticising coalition Government policy – a move that made national headlines after being branded a ‘Labour-instigated stitch-up’ by the Conservative spin machine.
And this was the reason she was nominated by colleagues, who said she should be included for being ‘inspirational’, ‘sticking to her guns and ‘highlighting the concerns of primary care’.
And with the election behind us, there’s no sign of Professor Gerada letting up.
At the Pulse Live conference in London in March, Professor Gerada said that GPs should be lobbying against the Friends and Family Test, NHS Choices and ‘nasty’ inspection and regulation processes that undermine their clinical professionalism.
She herself has established the Founders’ Network this year, which aims to make the NHS a more compassionate place for staff. She has also continued her vital work leading the Practitioners’ Health Programme, a confidential advisory service for doctors living in London who have mental health or addiction problems.
What’s next? Professor Gerada says she’s planning on creating an all-parliamentary group in practitioner health in order to advance concerns about the poor mental health of NHS staff. And she has taken on more clinical work at her practice in Lewisham in south London, ‘realising I still love being a GP’, she says.
But her favourite moment of the past 12 months? ‘Standing on stage in front of 2,000 people, receiving my honorary fellowship from University College London, having sat for two hours next to a female Nobel prize winner.’