Having started in 2014, I am now entering my sixth year as representative for Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield on the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) of the British Medical Association (BMA).
Each year that I have represented you I have provided a written report of what my year has been like and read together they provide a story of what it means to be the GPC representative for our region. I have circulated these stories to your LMC and have asked that they be circulated to you to keep you abreast of my work on your behalf. I have also published them on the Doncaster LMC website for ease of your access.
My report this year is late due my own health issues, having had heart surgery to replace my aortic valve on 1st June 2019.
Nonetheless, I remain dedicated to ensuring the collective voice of South Yorkshire colleagues is heard clearly at a national level.
Over the past six years on the GPC I have become a recognisable face with a reputation for being blunt, critical and solution focussed. My feedback reflects what I have heard from you as constituents and does not always bear resemblance to my own thoughts and feelings. Where I have not been given a steer by you, I ask your respective LMCs and meet with them regularly to discuss issues important to you and them. Representing you in this way is hard, as I am judged by my words and actions which causes an emotional burden on me in those times where I present a South Yorkshire view which may be dissimilar to my own.
We have seen more of the emotional burden of being involved with the BMA and GPC this year when two colleagues spoke out about their abuse as BMA committee members. Katie Bramall-Stainer and Zoe Norris took the brave decision earlier this year to describe in some detail the abuse that they have received as women in medical politics and I know that these two are not alone.
Much of the last two years of GPC has felt to me to have been spent introspectively examining the purpose and behaviours of the committee. With good reason. I am well aware of each of the stories of who has allegedly bullied whom and how and why. I am also aware of the stories of who has allegedly influenced the outcome of projects for political purposes and career advancement.
There is a lot of work to be done before the GPC can represent GPs in the professional manner in which I would expect of this great committee. In my opinion, the derisive split between the GPDF, BMA and GPC also further divides allegiances. Right now, we need unity through strong leadership and effective teamwork. I am glad to acknowledge that the BMA are taking serious action on this.
Despite this negativity, it is important to recognise those individuals who do glorious things on behalf of the GPC. These include the employed BMA staff, the GPC policy leads and the National Executive Team who work extraordinarily hard for our profession and deserve our thanks and admiration. Over the last few years, countless hours of their time have been spent unpaid and in some cases without contracts, yet they have worked tirelessly to try to deliver the best for grassroots General Practice.
This year I have joined their ranks in the role of deputy policy lead for information management, technology and information governance, as it seems to me that the future of General Practice is digital.
I look forward to representing your voice over the next year.