Sometimes I think the Royal College of General Practitioners exists as a metaphorical punchbag. They provide a barn door-sized target to anyone wishing to aim a banjo at, while often shooting themselves in their two left feet. Enough has been said about sponsored lecture theatres bought with a Companionship, whatever that is. Existing College members are pledging to quit funding the mortgage of Euston Square if a right-wing journalist is given the opportunity to vent her spleen, if she knows where that is, at the next annual conference.
It is all too easy to poke fun, undermine and satirise the College. Normally I can’t really be that bothered with what it does. I am not a member, they have no direct influence on my contractual obligations and I do not feel I need them to help me ’foster and maintain the highest possible standards’. My fear of the CQC and own innate perfectionism does that. And I am not encouraged by their toolkits, guidance and publications.
The only possible impact that they might have on me is on their ability, or not, to produce new GPs that will feel able to have a career in general practice and perhaps even become partners. Though whether the training can be blamed for the state of general practice is another argument.
Theirs is not a ten-year plan. It’s better, it goes up to 11
It seems that the College have been visioning, future-casting and laying out their wish list for general practice in the UK. Theirs is not a ten-year plan. It’s better, it goes up to 11. Perhaps the only major difference between ’Fit for Future’ and the NHS long-term plan is that the College is giving themselves an extra year to achieve working at scale; community hubs; interoperability; genomics; social prescribing; multidisciplinary team working and more prevention than you can throw a speculum at.
For those of you who can’t quite get to the end of the 53-page document, they also want to shift so much work from GPs that we’ll be able to routinely offer 15 minute appointments, also made possible by the delivery of thousands of new GPs who will arrive on unicorns, and an improvement in working conditions that convinces GPs not to retire or immigrate. Things WILL be better in 2030, simply because the College have said so.
There is barely a hint of an idea of how this nirvana is going to be achieved, apart from a few case studies of places that tried something that worked or was predicted to work. But why would the College bother to work out how their vision would be fulfilled? They don’t have to, and can’t, make any of their dreams happen, so can promise what they like, because all they have conjured up is a vision, not a plan.
Dr Samir Dawlatly is a GP partner in Birmingham