Dear Faculty members,
The elected members of the RCGP council are now significantly diverse since the last election, reflecting the wider membership of the RCGP. This was a result of significant pressure from the letter sent by us and 1500 ordinary GPs last year on lack of diversity in the RCGP leadership.
This is a positive development. However, the same cannot be said of the senior positions in the organisation including the chair, college officers, chairs of the devolved councils, lay appointments and the Trustees. These disparities do not happen by chance and in our view reflect a failure to recognise the importance of having a diverse organisation at all levels and the benefits that it can bring.
It is within the power of the leadership of the RCGP to use existing bye laws and rules to actively encourage diversity within the leadership roles. The failure to do so perpetuates a situation where most of the senior positions are held by white males with little evidence of change over the last few years. It creates the impression amongst the wider membership, of a College out of touch with its members with the leadership drawn from a small unrepresentative clique.
On the 26 February, for example, you have papers in front of you where the Chair of the RCGP is specifically promoting a further three years for the present Chair of Trustees rather than opening up the position to other skilled and diverse members of the council and trustee board. This process has also opened up the question about these senior posts and whether such posts should be held by practising GPs.
Discrimination also thrives where there is less transparency. Why for example is the RCGP council meeting not by right, open to all RCGP members and broadcast on the internet. To not do so prevents proper scrutiny of decision making. Publication of minutes is a poor substitute for transparency of decision making.
Lack of council meetings on the internet potentially disadvantages those that would find it more difficult to travel to London for a council meeting as an observer, as a result of disability or childcare commitments.
For some time, there has been a request to declare and publish expenses by individual name, for viewing by members. Why is this not on the council agenda this time? Who is holding this up and why?
Finally, why is there not a visible interest register of council members on the website and therefore available to all members of the RCGP?
I hope you will raise these matters at the Council meeting on the 26th February.
Diversity and transparency in an organisation are about fairness, equal opportunities and getting the best talent. It increases the credibility of its leaders amongst the membership and wider society. Often it is institutional processes that act as a barrier to change and we would urge you to lobby Council to question the appointment of the trustees, encourage transparency and make council meetings more open and accessible.
Professor Aneez Esmail
Professor Sir Sam Everington
Dr Naureen Bhatti