In our final review of 2021, Allie Anderson looks at Dr Farah Jameel’s tasks after she took over as chair of GPC England
Dr Farah Jameel in November became the first woman to head the GPC in England.
She assumes the position as manifold issues all fight to be top of the pile in her in-tray – as Pulse explored.
Dr Jameel made a promise to GPs that she would ‘bring hope back to the profession’, which will surely be no mean feat.
First, there’s tackling NHS England’s heavily criticised access plan and coordinating the BMA’s response.
When the access plan was initially released, there was confusion about how the BMA would handle things. There was a poll. Industrial action was mooted, but not strike action. The results of the poll were damning.
A potentially bigger issue for the new chair is the Trojan horse of PCNs and the division they have caused.
While PCN membership is voluntary, more primary care funding is set to be funnelled through networks. Some have called on the GPC to negotiate that PCN funding be directed into the core contract instead.
Dr Jameel will certainly need sharp negotiating skills when talks begin about the GMS contract, to be brought in from April 2022.
When the current five-year contract was agreed in 2019, funding was set, as were expectations that there would be little change for the whole contract term.
But, in October, GPC members instructed the executive to negotiate an altogether new contract on the basis that the current one is ‘underfunded and unsafe’, while the LMCs Conference was even more radical.
Likely subjects for discussion are the access targets announced in NHS England’s support package, aspects of core funding, and the requirement for GPs to publicly declare annual earnings above £150k – even though the health secretary has pushed back the deadline for doing so.
And of course, Dr Jameel will be tasked with tackling workload challenges.
In her previous position as a member of the GPC’s executive team, she was already leading on workload issues, including changes to the core contract that would prevent workload dumping from secondary care.
If all this were not enough, Dr Jameel is leading a profession in the grip of an almighty PR crisis, with targeted attacks from the national press leaving public opinion at an all-time low.
So, thank goodness Dr Jameel has hope. As she sets about her to-do list in the New Year, she will certainly need it.