The RCGP have often been accused of sitting on the fence, failing to provide a vision for general practice at a time when GPs are crying out for leadership. I think there is often justification in these accusations. So hearing the chair of the College, Professor Martin Marshall, live in person at Pulse LIVE this week – following his strong appearance at the health select committee last month – was really refreshing for me.
First, there was no sugar coating of the situation in general practice. His contention that there is a ‘very real threat’ that general practice could end up like dentistry – with it becoming almost impossible for patients to find NHS practitioners and having to go private for most care – was one of the starkest warnings I have heard about the future of the profession.
But what I found most refreshing was his laying out of the College’s five principles of general practice going forward: the need to upscale; greater use of multidisciplinary working; better use of technology; more integration and more support from secondary care; and the need for GPs to be involved in population health.
What was most interesting about these principles is that not everyone will agree – for too long, I feel the College has been guilty of campaigning for more outstanding achievement in the field of excellence. There are definite arguments against larger scale general practice, and relying on non-GPs to provide care is not necessarily a position the profession should be advocating.
To see the College coming off the fence, and advocating principles that can be translated into policy is a good thing. This is, of course, only a start. We would ideally like to see a development of what this will mean. But I’d much rather see the College annoying members for what they are saying that what they are not.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org