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Does RCGP really represent who it claims to?

Dr Alan Woodall


Back in the days of the old MRCGP, I was a bright-eyed new partner, shortlisted for the Fraser Rose Medal and presuming I’d be an active member. So what changed?

It dawned on me that the RCGP didn’t represent me, the grassroots GP. My decision to leave came after the hammering the profession got from a former chair. College chairs and presidents came and went, all professing frankly bizarre messages that seemed more about their own career advancement than supporting GPs. We should all be salaried? GPs were ideally placed to undertake [insert latest fad here]? I once tried to audit how many questions the RCGP advised we opportunistically ask within a ten-minute consultation, and gave up when I got to 12.

Lacks the flexibility to react in a digital world, and questions must be asked…

The RCGP itself isn’t the problem. Good work goes on at faculty level. It’s when political pole-climbers fill the hypoxic bubble of the ‘me-too’ London HQ (think what it would have done for publicity to have relocated to a deprived West Midlands conurbation) that recognition of what it’s like for a full-time grassroots GP is lost. A series of serial committee hoppers or academics who spend little time in the attrition of general practice direct the rest of the profession.

I watch as the RCGP flagellates itself with a series of PR disasters, demonstrating how out of touch it is, from colouring books suggested for new GPs, to the recent ‘Sultan-gate’. It lacks the flexibility to react in a digital world, and questions must be asked of the grubbiness of officers taking funding from a homophobic dictator in the first place. I’ve voiced my concerns as founder of GP Survival, only to be told with a veiled threat by a senior officer that I was ‘on a watch-list’ of subversives.

As a GP trainer, I’m enthusiastic to support young GPs, but the college holds no relevance for me, and I haven’t missed it. I encourage prospective trainers to reject the notion that they must remain a member. Save your money: £500 is a lot to keep officers in comfy chairs in Euston. Until the chair is directly elected by the members, I won’t rejoin.

Dr Alan Woodall is a GP in Wales and founder of GP Survival