RCGP chair hails 'heroes of general practice' in Olympics tribute

RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada took to the stage for her keynote speech at the college's annual conference today wrapped in a Union Jack and wearing an Olympics tracksuit to pay homage to her heroes in general practice.

Professor Clare Gerada: Olympics tribute to 'heroes of general practice' (photo: Pete Hill)

Dr Gerada acknowledged the founding fathers of the college, in its 60th anniversary year, taking the theme of ‘travelling on the shoulders of giants’. She revealed that like many others, she cried with pride as the NHS took centre stage in the 'profoundly moving' Olympic opening ceremony.

In the speech she highlighted three GPs in particular who have inspired her career in general practice: Dr John Horder, Dr David Morrell and Professor Iona Heath.

Former RCGP president Dr Horder died this year having not missed a college AGM for 59 years. ‘He reminded us that, although the present brings continual change, the basic elements of what it means to be a good GP remain constant’, said Professor Gerada. ‘John has been called the father of modern general practice and his contribution to our college and our profession is immeasurable.’

Her former trainer Dr Morrell, who also died this year, was the first GP from an academic department of general practice to become president of the BMA.

When he took the post in 1994, he challenged the BMA to lead the profession ‘out of the mire of marketplace medicine to the high ground of professional medical care’.

Current college president Professor Heath was also praised in the speech for ‘a generation of service’ to the profession and the college. ‘She inspired me, as she has done many in this room. Generations of us have been moved by her writings, her speeches, her honesty and her values,’ said Professor Gerada.

Dr Gerada said the college's progress towards extending GP training would be 'our gift to the next generation'. But she also warned that the 'mother of all top-down reorganisations' of the NHS under the government's Health Act reforms had left the health service, and many GPs 'in turmoil'.

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