Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer will be a radical GPC chair who is not afraid to negotiate hard, says Jaimie Kaffash
A couple of years back, we ran an exercise where we tried to build the best version of general practice from scratch. We invited a number of prominent and grassroots GPs to join a panel to come up with ideas that we then put out to reader polls.
There were some great ideas, and some great GPs on the panel. One of the GPs that stood out the most was Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, then chief executive of Cambridgeshire LMCs and chair of the LMCs conference. And I think she will make an excellent chair of the BMA GP Committee England.
Now, declaration of interest – I’ve known Dr Bramall-Stainer since I was a mere admin assistant at the BMA in the early 2000s. But whenever I have had dealings with her, I’ve invariably been impressed. First, her knowledge of contracts and terms and conditions is unsurpassed – she knows more than anyone what commissioners can and can’t do. The consensus among GPs is they are struggling to fulfil contractual requirements, let alone the thousands of non-contractual tasks that seem to land on their desk. I suspect Dr Bramall-Stainer will fight to ensure that they have mechanisms to refuse non-contractual work – which should be the first priority for the GPC. She has already done similar locally – among other initiatives.
Second, I think that GPC England has a radical chair now. Dr Bramall-Stainer has never been afraid of negotiating hard, and pushing for action (not necessarily industrial action, but action nonetheless). There might be a little more tension with NHS England, but I am not sure this is a bad thing.
There are, of course, caveats too. As I said last month, I think GPC was cack-handed in the vote of no confidence in Dr Farah Jameel. The government side will be rubbing their hands at the way things transpired.
I am also not sure how much any chair of the GPC can get out of the Government. It probably has 18 months left, it has no money (or, at least, is not willing to spend money) and I don’t think GPs have much leverage anyway. I’ve argued that industrial or collective action is a probable non starter. The real nuclear option – GPs walking away – has been happening for years, and that hasn’t led to a decent contract.
Dr Bramall-Stainer has a tough task ahead of her in representing the profession in England. But if anyone can do it, she can. No (K)BS.