Without doubt, Tower Hamlets LMC in east London is one of the most effective in the country, and that is in no small part thanks to its chair, Dr Jackie Applebee. The committee takes on unfashionable causes, and puts them firmly into the public consciousness. For example, when requests for GPs to share a patient’s address with Home Office immigration officials were made in her local area, Dr Applebee made sure everyone knew about it – telling practices to decline the request on the grounds of patient confidentiality and generating publicity. ‘GPs are not border guards,’ she said at the time.
Her dual hats – she is also vice-chair of Doctors in Unite – gives her a platform for her work to protect the vulnerable. Tower Hamlets LMC and Doctors in Unite have been the loudest critics of the new app-based NHS GP at Hand service, run by private firm Babylon in partnership with a west London NHS practice.
She has warned the service is taking healthy patients away from other practices, leaving practices with more vulnerable patients. It is also creating upheaval for GPs whose patients unwittingly deregister through joining GP at Hand, and then want to return, she says.
Meanwhile, at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting in Brighton, Dr Applebee argued the Government’s counter-terrorism programme – known as Prevent – was creating racial profiling. She called on the BMA to support members who refused to take part in the programme and the motion was passed with a large majority.
Having now been elected to BMA Council for the first time, Dr Applebee, a salaried GP, can expect more battles. She is far from fazed by the prospect – it will be ‘a new challenge’ she says.
Why influential: Sounds the alarm on behalf of patients and GPs
What others say: ‘Passion for the values of general practice and the NHS’
Random fact: Plays clarinet in a local band on Friday nights