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‘The RCGP has become complacent’

It’s a crisis – general practice is at a tipping point. The NHS will fail if general practice doesn’t find a way to survive and prosper. This crisis should have been anticipated years ago by the senior GPs at the heart of the College and actions taken in those lost years to avert this workforce and workload crisis.

The RCGP used to be a visionary college for its members that mapped out the exciting future for general practice. It’s become more like a complacent corporation that mostly provides membership services and as such has reacted too little and too late to the many causes of the current crisis.

My hopes are that we can create an interest and discussion in this election so that:

– More than 25% of members vote

– Most members vote for me

– Members give me the democratic mandate to influence the inner sanctum of the RCGP

– We can plan our way out of this crisis. Sensible options for the duration of the crisis are that the college prioritises the following:

1 Reducing our workload by stating what we can safely stop doing.

2 Ensuring that the medical schools and NHS start to produce enough GPs for the future.

3 Finding the best ways to provide essential general practice efficiently and effectively and spread that best practice faster.

As a non-political organisation whose purpose is high quality care the RCGP has the authority and evidence base to demand the changes we need to save general practice and the NHS.

I have been an active member of the RCGP since 1980 and in 2013 was elected nationally as a member of the RCGP Council where I try to make the College more relevant for all its members. I’ve worked full time as a GP for over 30 years. I’ve had leading roles in teaching, training, research, management, appraisals, building premises, starting an OOH cooperative, gaining fellowship of RCGP by assessment, doing the RCGP quality practice award three times, starting a multi-practice federation, being active in our local faculty, representing our College and much more.

I’ve had sabbaticals, worked as a GP in New Zealand, exchanged practice with a GP in Australia, and studied at Harvard how to improve the performance of physicians. My last sabbatical explored how to find and spread best practice faster. The answer? Find yourself a better network.

I’ve enjoyed a great life in general practice. Now I’ve taken my NHS pension but continue to work part time in my practice and elsewhere.

My blog Frequently Unasked Questions in General Practice ( summarises what I’ve learned. For the next month I will be adding President of the RCGP FUQs (PRCGP FUQs). You can email me your questions at or via twitter @TKemple.

Dr Terry Kemple is a GP in Bristol, GP educator for the Severn Deanery and GP research champion for the NIHR Clinical Research Network West of England.