Chair of RCGP election 2019 – who gets your vote?

The election for the new Chair of the RCGP is now open. Unlike the election for the president which is an election by the RCGP membership, the role of Chair is elected by council following a hustings at a RCGP council meeting – akin to a political party election (like the one we are having now).

The term for Chair of RCGP council runs normally from November for a three year period. Over the past 15 years the role has changed from being a role that coordinated Council to including being the spokesperson of the college.

Helen Stokes-Lampard as outgoing chair has led the college through a challenging time for general practice and one that should change with planned investment coming through the new GP contract.

But who will take over?

There are three candidates : Kamila Hawthorne, Simon Gregory and Martin Marshall.

All have held roles in the past of note and justify them for the role. Below is versions of their communication to me as part of their bids to become our next Chair of Council.

I was unable to attend the hustings process so similar to many know the candidates by their statements and their actions. I provide this to help inform those who wish to know more and guide me in my own voting decision.

So in alphabetical order (surname) here are the candidates :

Simon Gregory

With voting about to open I would like to summarise why I am standing and why I hope that you will vote for me as your first choice for Chair.

As I wrote to you previously, I am standing for Chair of Council because I believe that working together and guided by our values we can create positive, impactful change for our profession. Because now is the time to deliver our vision, transparently and decisively.

Now is time for our College to have strong effective leadership with a strong track record of delivery on the ground. I have shown you the substance behind my claims of delivery. I am a GP, an educator and already a national leader with experience, networks and influence but not dazzled in the headlights. In my practice and across the country I experience first-hand and see the challenges and pressures and I get it!

Our College has a vital role in shaping the future of our profession. We have new contracts, though not all yet delivered, we have a vision but now is the time for some creative disruption, for action, for implementation and for practical help on the ground at the front-line.

Although GP training is more popular than ever before there is a crack in the bath. We need to work together to support GPs. GPs cannot be replaced, supported but not replaced.

The expert generalist, we as specialists in General Practice are vital for high quality affordable patient care and the sustainability of the NHS. But our members need practical support and to feel that they get value from their College. With me at the helm, serving Council and the College we would be clear and unambiguous about and reaffirm our values including transforming the openness and transparency of our College.

Transparency builds trust. We need to empower and support faculties as our local body and empower Council as our democratic body to lead the strategy of the College and to reinvigorate our profession. We need a better balance of English business with 4-nation College and strategy. We are a 4-nation College and we are stronger together. We also need to develop a more mature relationship with Trustee Board, valuing our Trustees but remembering that Council is our democratic body.

It is time to bring back joy, to restore pride and give hope in General Practice. Time to be proactive, progressive and brave as a College. Together we can do this. We share an abiding faith in the value of General Practice. At its best it is the most wonderful and rewarding profession. At its best, it is almost never heroic, it is human, caring and compassionate.

I give you evidence of delivery across clinical and non-clinical settings, evidence of radical solutions to achieve the impossible, passionate belief in General Practice and consistent open values.

I care about the NHS, General Practice our members and those we serve together we can make a massive difference. I hope that you will vote for me and that we will soon be working together on this vital agenda.

Kamila Hawthorne

As you know, I will do everything I can to ensure I deliver on the vision I outline below:

Imagine a future for our practices and communities (mine is Mountain Ash, in the Welsh Valleys), where we can provide the quality and standard of service to which we all aspire – time to consult with our patients (who have increasingly complex needs), in the right facilities, with the right tools and the right practice teams – that embody a 21st Century approach to person-centred care. Where there is time and space for genuine co-production with patients, giving them responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, with a pro-active and evidence-based approach to supporting healthy communities. And with this, a College where all our diverse members, look to us as their ‘home’ – a community of practice and professional friendship where and when they need it. The NHS can’t survive without us, but general practice is not thriving – our numbers continue to fall and our patients and our profession are in danger. We must focus on retaining and returning GPs, as well as those entering general practice. In order to build on this, we need to work with and through our members, to bring about transformation in the way we work, while keeping our unique approach to patient care. I propose an integrated strategy based on 4 ‘W’s – workforce, workload and wellbeing, in the context of the ‘wider horizon’. We START by developing a clear contemporary identity for GPs as expert generalists, which defines what is unique to us, and our cornerstone role in the NHS, working 24/7 in a multiplicity of roles and settings. This acts as our benchmark. From this we:· Lobby for a single professional GMC register to raise the profile of general practice· Engage with the vision and plans for transforming the way we work in our Four Nations, and continue to lobby for the funding needed to do so.· Use our expertise in education, training and standards to deliver accessible, high quality professional support, that provides the foundation to the intellectual challenges of general practice, keeping patients safe and improving quality.· Through our Faculties, we develop member networks to share good practice and new ways of working. · Push for enhanced and extended training centred in general practice, that includes leadership, digital technology and personalized care.· Support our colleagues on GPC to negotiate on pension and contracts I believe our hard working, and inspiring members are the critical pivot point to recovery. Many have found solutions to various workforce and workload problems, but need a forum to share them. As a College, we can be the prime movers to revitalise general practice, and our Faculties are ideally structured to create local networks where members can problem-solve, share good practice, and learn together through social media and face-to-face networking. We must offer more College Fellowships, to show how much we value and support the work of individual GPs. We’ve talked about mentorship programmes forever, – by the end of my tenure as Chair, I’d want to see every GP, member or not, having access to another GP, who is ready to listen and if necessary, signpost to additional sources of help. But our members are disengaged and question their membership. They need to feel valued and involved, and to know their College is transparent in its functions (including its finances) has integrity in its relationships with others (including sponsors and donors), and how it sets its priorities, and delivers on its targets. We need to look in as well as to look out: ‘Bringing our members home’, is my slogan – and I’ll be asking all of you, and your Faculty Boards, to work with me. My Policy and Campaigns priority will be based on the widening Health Inequalities in our Four Nations. As GPs, we witness this daily – and it needs to be called out – currently, no one is saying or doing enough to make a difference. As your Chair, I’ll continue Helen’s skillful influencing approach, (especially during this uncertain peri-Brexit time,full of unknown unknowns), and add my own flavour of networking and bridge-building skills. But I will also ‘speak truth to power’, as and when it is needed. My values have always been to do my very best, with integrity, kindness, inclusivity and collaboration. As a six-session GP from the Welsh Valleys, Bevan and Tudor Hart are in my blood. I have extensive Officer and Faculty Board experience, and a track record of delivery. I really believe that together we can ‘bring the members home’, and rebuild our profession for the benefit of our patients and the NHS.

Martin Marshall

I thought it might be helpful for you to see a quick summary of what I said. I’d be delighted to answer any questions that you might have.

I think that general practice is at last turning the corner and the college’s focus must now be on addressing our workload, the biggest threat to our ability to provide sustained high quality care, and on conveying a positive vision for our future, one that embraces our established values and is forward looking and ambitious.

From my experience of working with previous chairs, I think we need a chair who we can trust to act as our public face, who is able to convey the reality of general practice, who has the courage to make tough decisions remembering that we are hear to serve patients, and who had the confidence of the leadership team.

My experiences as a GP partner and salaried clinician, as a researcher, working in government, as a local NHS leader in East London and as vice-chair for the last 3 years have prepared me to fulfil these roles.

As vice-chair I’ve focused on areas which is practically important to our members and strategically important to our speciality – the reform of QOF with the introduction of a QI component, our practice support and development service, patient centred care, over-medicalisation and re-thinking medicine, the effective use of tech, out-of-hours and mandatory training.

If elected I would want to work with council on improving the connection of members to the college, addressing the fact that only 13% of our members engage with their local faculties and 58% of members fail to speak positively about their college. I’d do this by focusing on delivering what we know our members want – an integrated CPD offer, a mentorship for early-career doctors, a better offer for our trainers and better data and analytics capacity to address workload. I’d also improve the connection by changing the way we think about the college – not as a traditional institution with rigid structures and working processes but as an enabler of networks of people with shared interests, as a think and do-tank which addresses complex challenges and comes up with practical solutions.

We want to be an organisation that people want to listen to and work with because we are authoritative.

So who gets your vote?

I have not shared their official statements as I am unsure if I can.

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