The Leeds GP, who will depart at this month’s GPC session on 18 November, said it was the ‘right time’ for a new chair to take over as general practice nears the fourth year of a five-year GP contract deal that began in 2019.
Dr Vautrey's decision to step down comes just days after the BMA announced it was pressing ahead with plans to ballot GPs on industrial action over controversial access plans announced by the government last month.
After serving as part of the BMA GP committee negotiating and executive team for almost two decades, Dr Vautrey said he was proud of what he and his team had achieved since he was appointed chair in 2017.
He said: ‘With the need to begin planning for a new contract as we approach the fourth year of our current five-year agreement, a new chair and team need to be given the opportunity to do this.
‘Being chair of the BMA’s GP committee has been the greatest privilege and honour. To be able to work on behalf of this great profession for so long has given me the opportunity to work with many extremely gifted and dedicated people and I want to thank them all for their help, support, and encouragement.
‘Together we have achieved a lot including significantly increasing the investment for general practice, turning around the decline in GP pay, removing the burden of indemnity, improving the quality of care for patients with long-term conditions, enabling the recruitment of a growing multidisciplinary team to work with and support GPs...and most recently supporting GPs and practices through and COVID-19 pandemic and enabling GPs to play a leading role in the hugely successful delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
‘There is so much more to do, at such a critical time for the profession, and I wish my successor all the best in delivering that.’
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, himself a former GP committee chair with whom Dr Vautrey worked as deputy chair, thanked Dr Vautrey for his ‘unwavering and loyal service to the profession and the BMA’.
He said: ‘Richard has been a tireless champion for general practice for more than two decades. [He is] one of the hardest working members of the BMA, extremely diligent and dedicated, and who gave all of himself to the association and to the profession.
‘His leadership throughout the pandemic has made a difference to doctors and patients alike, not least through the critical role he played in enabling GPs to lead and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine programme that has contributed to the highly successful roll-out of vaccinations and the most successful vaccination programme in NHS history.’
‘Amidst the pressures of the pandemic Richard has shown determination to do his very best for general practice in the most pressing and testing circumstances.’
GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Alan Stout said: ‘Richard has been an outstanding chair, colleague and friend to all GPs in Northern Ireland. This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved in healthcare and we need a strong, measured, and steadying influence now more than we ever have. There is no question that Richard has provided this during his time as chair of GPC England and GPC UK.’
GPC Wales chair Dr Phil White said: ‘He has been a great support to GPC Wales over the years, and very supportive of me personally when I took over the role of chair. A true gentleman taking on tasks that were very difficult, if not impossible, to complete given the stance taken by the government.
GPC Scotland chair Dr Andrew Buist said: ‘Richard has put his heart and soul into working for GPs; at this difficult time we really need professional unity to take on those who would put us down.’
The BMA has said that Dr Vautrey will continue in his role as normal until a new chair of GPC is elected at the November meeting.