An accomplished politician, Dr Richard Vautrey may be beginning his eighth year as deputy chair of the GPC, but he shows no signs of wearying.
Described by our panel as ‘the smartest hard working GP politician who puts everyone else in the shade’ he was at the forefront of negotiations with NHS England this year that saw a 40%reduction in QOF points.
His highlight of the year was to ‘reverse most of the Government’s unacceptable and damaging 2013/14 contract changes’, but on the other side of that coin he describes the worse part as ‘not being able to convince Government and NHS England of the damage that MPIG and PMS cuts will have to practices and patients’.
The 2014/15 contract negotiations are looming, but what does he want to achieve? He says ‘an end to constant NHS re-organisations’ and ‘a Government committed to fully resourcing general practice’. Some tough aims.
As LMC secretary and now assistant secretary for 15 years he could be forgiven for being worn down by the ‘firefighting’ associated with general practice politics.
But far from it he says. ‘I’m encouraged by the support I receive from colleagues who know we are fighting for the right cause and that whilst I’m speaking up for GPs, by doing so we’ll end up with a better service for patients – and that’s why I became a doctor.’
He seems to effortlessly juggle his time between his practice in Leeds and political commitments, although whether it feels effortless is another matter.
How does he relax? Digging up the weeds in his garden, which is describes as ‘a never-ending task’. Not at all unlike GP negotiation then.
For young medics joining general practice he has these words of advice: ‘You’ll work hard, may not be appreciated by the press, you’ll not have enough time with your patients, but it remains a great career and a privilege to spend time with your patients during their highs and lows throughout their life.’