Professor Marshall was speaking at the RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool, a month before taking over from Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard.
He said that lobbying by the College over many years meant that politicians now finally ‘get the importance’ of general practice, understanding that the NHS needs GPs in order to function effectively, and ‘at last resources are following the rhetoric’.
But Professor Marshall, a GP in East London and Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL, said despite his optimism there was still a long way to go.
'Politicians still do not understand what we do’
‘The problem is that whilst they acknowledge our importance, most politicians and senior leaders don’t yet understand what we do or how we do it. They too often see general practice as set of technical transactions, rather than focusing on where we really add value - using relationships based on trust and shared understanding to support patients to improve their health and wellbeing.’
He said his top priority would be to keep up the pressure on reducing GP workload, to create space for GPs to deliver the best possible care, and then to explore how they might want to evolve their roles. To achieve this, he said there would be a series of consistent themes to the work of the College:
- A robust call to recruit, support and retain more GPs and more members of the wider primary care workforce
- Practical help to realise new ways of working within teams and across networks
- Support to reinvigorate the core value of whole person, relationship-focused care
- New ways of engaging a larger proportion of members in the work of the college
‘With an average consultation time of ten minutes, to many of us it doesn’t currently feel like a very do-able job’, said Professor Marshall. ‘That’s why we have problems with morale, recruitment and retention. With your support I will ensure that being a GP doesn’t just have the potential to be the best job in the world, it actually is the best job in the world.’