RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker gives her views on all the latest issues for GPs

We asked RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker for her thoughts on the current hot topics for GP practices and the college.

Dr Maureen Baker (Photo: RCGP)
Dr Maureen Baker (Photo: RCGP)

On the future of GP partnerships...

‘Lots of young doctors do not want to be partners at the moment. They look at partners taking on all the work and do not want to be like that. But it does not have to be that way.

‘If we are able to support general practice with the right resources, partnerships may become an attractive option again.

‘The college does not think partnership is the be-all-and-end-all, but many GPs would say it has served patients well. If we were to lose that, we would lose something really valuable.

‘Is it worth losing something that valuable? Developments over the next few years will answer that question one way or another.’

On the development of GP federations...

‘I do believe that for general practice to be sustainable, most practices will need to look at ways of collaborating. In many areas, probably the best way to do that is in formal arrangements, such as federations.

‘There has been no official support for federations in terms of financial incentives, so it is remarkable that so many have developed.

‘And it’s good they have formed locally and been GP-led. But if we are going to get the most from the federation model, they probably now need targeted support.’

On the judicial review of the MRCGP exam...

‘The judge did not recommend any specific work on the exam. It’s about making sure the candidates are properly prepared for the exam, and working with others to ensure that happens.

‘The exam already meets best practice in many aspects. One of the reasons the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin took this case was because we were one of the first colleges to publish our results.

‘We do not regret doing that. We are committed to continuing to improve our performance because we want the exam to be fair to everyone.’

On equality and diversity in the college...

‘The judicial review was ongoing when I became chairwoman and I said that win or lose, I wanted us to start a thorough review of our equality and diversity practices across all of the protected characteristics.

‘It was an opportunity for us to be able to do this and we are now aiming to be operating at the level of best practice in every area. The college is much more than the exam and we want every aspect of our work to be fair to everyone.’

On the continuing crisis in GP recruitment...

‘We are looking to increase the workforce in relation to patient demand and we need to make the most of the workforce we already have.

‘We need to retain existing GPs by looking at what support we can put in place for them, at the same time as encouraging people to come back into the workforce.’

On the UK-wide funding problems for GPs...

‘When we did the preparatory work for the campaign, we saw the same trends in every UK country, regardless of the administration running health policy.

‘England’s proportion of the NHS budget is actually higher at 8.39% than in the other nations. But it’s a consistent problem across the UK and that’s why our Put Patients First campaign is UK-wide.

‘We have different health services, but general practice is underfunded in all of them. It’s not a strategic decision. It just depends on which part of the service shouts the loudest.

‘There’s been an assumption that general practice is there and does what it does. But we have now reached a point where the deficiencies are becoming visible wherever you look.’

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