Never doubt your value as GPs, outgoing RCGP president tells colleagues

GPs can 'find meaning' in responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and should never doubt their value despite pressure and criticism, the outgoing RCGP president has said.

Professor Amanda Howe
Professor Amanda Howe

Speaking at the RCGP annual conference 2021 in Liverpool, outgoing president Professor Amanda Howe told delegates that the college had worked to offer members 'protection against the uncertainties of the pandemic'.

The college had worked throughout to deliver advice and updates, helping members to understand the changing situation, and how to adapt to keep colleagues and patients safe - and to ensure the profession's voice was heard at the highest levels of government and the NHS, she said.

Professor Howe said that over the coming months the college would need to 'prioritise some communities' within general practice where the impact of COVID-19 may have been felt most severely.

COVID-19 impact

'I am particularly aware of the experience of AIT and First-5 GPs - it is always a period of transition and those colleagues in particular we need to be helping them to gain the confidence and skills they need to be happy in the job,' she said.

'We need to reach out to local colleagues to support them both to work at scale, and to help with the business of recovery. That is also true within our teams - better together, stronger together, less isolated and more effective.

'We need to be very mindful about people whose needs have been really highlighted by the impact of the pandemic, but were there before - patients and colleagues whose life chances were less than ours, the poor, the deprived communities, the difficult practices where you can't get a partner.

'All those things, the health inequality situations where the pandemic has only served to feed that - we need to prioritise our work with them and for them. There is a lot to do and we need to be honest about that.

Value of GPs

'But trying to meet these challeges can be healing in itself. By trying to help others we can find meaning in our lives. Never doubt your value as GPs.'

College president-elect Professor Dame Clare Gerada echoed Professor Howe's comments about the value of GPs. She told the conference: 'You do a fabulous job, unsung but greatly appreciated not just by your colleagues but by your patients.

'We are in the middle of a revolution, in the middle of a digital revolution, but isn’t it amazing that GPs - despite what we have been through - we are delivering more, to more [people] to a higher standard, to a greater degree of complexity than ever before.

'Every 20 years or so our profession is in a crisis. We are in another one. But good things happen from revolutions, and good things are going to happen to us and our profession.'

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