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Day in the life: Leading a GP federation

Phil Yates

Profile: Dr Phil Yates

Age: 58

Role: Chair, GP Care, and a GP partner

Location: Bristol

Days worked per week: Five days, half at GP Care and the other half in clinical sessions




The alarm goes, but I may have been up in the night writing articles or thinking about work we’re trying to develop. I love the silence of those early hours and the uninterrupted chance to concentrate.


I’m in the office and have some quiet time before everyone arrives. I catch up with the latest news from websites and blogs – Pulse, King’s Fund and others. I forward interesting articles to others in the team. GP Care is a federation of 100 GP practices that have pooled resources and created a provider company. I was appointed chair in 2006.


Colleagues arrive. Whatever the level of their work, it’s important they know they’re valued and, as chair, I make a point of speaking to them if I can. I want empowered colleagues, not a hierarchy.


Today it’s the senior management team meeting with my CEO, director of business development, director of operations and HR director. We’re discussing four AQP contracts we’ve won – morale is high because of the wins, but delivery at the quality we aspire to will be a challenge. I rely heavily on the strength of others.

For me this teamwork is stimulating, having spent more than 30 years in one-to-one consultations.


I chat to my CEO and finalise the agenda for our monthly board meeting. The non-executive members need assurance about how a service will be delivered. Our strategy in the 2014/15 business plan goes to the board. We’ve refined it over three months, so hopefully it will be signed off.


I travel to our local foundation trust. I’ve arranged to see the lead cardiologist about ‘consultant link’ – an advice line that connects GPs to specialists to help support the patient and reduce referrals. The idea is to bridge the communications gulf between specialists and generalists, and I need to ask him whether the system working well for his team.


Our out-of-hours provider (which started life as a GP co-op) has invited me to an education event. It’s great to be there, but chatting with other GPs reinforces the view that practices are under huge strain.


I work as clinical lead for CKD; my daughter had a transplant so I have a clear interest. I’m taking a session at the GP update day in two weeks and make sure I include the latest guidance.


I attack my emails. Fantastic! The expedition company has confirmed my fundraising trek in the High Andes.

For years, I have used my spare time
to volunteer on expeditions. Recently I have volunteered in the Sahara, at the top of Kilimanjaro, on the Great Wall of China, at Everest Base Camp and on the Inca Trail.


Just in time for the train. I’m speaking at a CCG symposium. Bristol, like many other cities, wants to examine its options for setting up a GP provider company like GP Care and is comparing models that work elsewhere.

I can’t help thinking that federations will be ubiquitous in general practice in the near future. 


I’m home. A glass of Rioja and Question Time is all I can handle now.

I would never have taken this role when my children were young. But now my wife can see how invigorated the role has made me and is accommodating. I haven’t had time to address today’s emails and correspondence, but I’ll do them early tomorrow morning.