One foot out of a global health crisis, only to step into a humanitarian one

11 March 2022

It feels as if we have only just got one foot out of a global health crisis, only to step into a humanitarian one.

The harrowing images of the events in Ukraine, including attacks on medical centres and healthcare workers, remind us not only of the fragility of life, but the impact of decisions made by those in power who do not respect it.

The College is doing what it can to show that we stand in solidarity with Ukraine, including making a symbolic statement by illuminating our 30 Euston Square headquarters in blue and yellow.

We’d also encourage anyone who wishes to help to support the Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 15 leading UK charities including the Red Cross, which has launched an appeal to provide emergency aid and rapid relief to civilians suffering during the conflict.

The refugee crisis has led to a huge outpouring of assistance from the voluntary sector, various organisations and the public, all eager to help those afflicted by war. In order to coordinate this help, to avoid creating disruption or duplication, NHS England has set up a dedicated email address: England.incident14@nhs.net, for people to submit offers of assistance.

We met this week with those who led the RCGP’s Ukraine programme in the early nineties to learn more of our College connections to colleagues in Ukraine. It was through the work led by Professor Orest Mulka and colleagues that many departments of family medicine were formed as was the Ukrainian Association of Family Doctors. We will continue to learn from those who know the country and its healthcare to find ways as a college we can further support our colleagues at this time.

We have received reports of British medical students who were based in Ukraine but who are now unable to complete their studies due to the ongoing conflict. This has caused understandable angst, particularly for those who were approaching the end of their medical training.

If you know of any student facing a similar predicament, please contact us at VCProfdevelopment@rcgp.org.uk. This will enable us to gauge the potential scale of the issues faced and more importantly explore what we as a College can do to offer our support in these hard times.

Best wishes,

Dr Margaret Ikpoh, Vice Chair for Professional Development and Standards
Dr Michael Mulholland, Honorary Secretary


Latest updates from College Chair Martin Marshall

Workforce planning: Email your MP

As I mentioned last week, Members of the House of Lords have voted in favour of an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that would encourage better workforce planning by forcing the Government to publish projections of NHS workforce gaps every two years. We must now convince MPs to do the same when the amendment is next debated in the House of Commons, which could be any time from next Wednesday 18 March. If you haven’t done so already, please join more than 1,300 others (a massive thanks to all of you for taking action) and email your MP to ask them to support this amendment, which will ultimately help to keep general practice and the wider NHS sustainable for the future.

The historic lack of workforce planning is one of the key reasons why GPs and our teams are working under such intense pressure. But the NHS is nothing without its people, which is why we’re joining almost 100 other health organisations in pushing for this amendment to pass. Read more about just why it's so important in GP Online.

Advocating for the future of general practice

In a speech to the Royal College of Physicians Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said he will shortly lay out his plans for the future of general practice and the NHS in general. He is expected to emphasise the role of GPs in prevention, under what are being trailed as radical reforms.

We have made consistently clear that we need action on the size of the workforce, rather than throwing out what we know works best, including the partnership model. You can read my piece in politics.co.uk outlining these arguments, and our response to last week’s Policy Exchange report on the future of the profession.

We will continue to advocate what is in the best interests of general practice as we strive to deliver the best outcomes for patients. We look forward to joining and influencing conversations around the future of general practice and will work with the government and others to do so but, ultimately, they must deliver on their manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs and 26,000 members of the wider general practice team, in order to keep the service, and thus the wider NHS, sustainable in the future.

Women at the heart of general practice

Tuesday marked International Women’s Day. It’s always a point of pride for me that general practice is such a trailblazer in terms of gender equality and I was struck by a statistic from our current exhibition – Women at the heart of general practice – that in 1963 just 9% of our members were women, whereas that is now 57%.

The exhibition, first launched online last year, has been curated to reflect, explore, and celebrate women’s major contribution to general practice.

Now available to explore in person at 30 Euston Square, the exhibition continues this celebration through artefacts from a witch’s charming stone to a paediatric anaesthetic kit to a pioneering 1940s book on breastfeeding, as well as bringing the portraits of the College’s five women presidents into one public space for the first time. Alongside artefacts are QR links that signpost visitors to further information and materials, as well as access to extracts from the College’s oral history collection. There are also two self-guided walks through the exhibition that visitors can take part in to trace the steps of remarkable women in medicine. See more information about visiting, and you can also read about it in this BJGP blog.

The College also continues to support and shape the delivery of women’s healthcare today, with an extensive range of free resources available on our Women’s Health Hub including reproductive health, menstrual wellbeing, menopause, and more. Access the women's healthcare resources.

NHSE guidance on COVID-19 antivirals

As we continue to monitor, assess and treat COVID-19 in our communities, it’s important to be up to date with the latest guidance.

Take a look at the latest guidance for GPs from NHS England on managing COVID-19 in our communities, this aims to assist GPs with referring patients for treatment who have not been contacted by NHS England directly regarding CMDU services but may still be eligible. It also contains a patient pathway flowchart that clinicians in general practice can refer to.

Accelerated citizen access to GP data

As the planned April go live date for NHSEI’s plan to give patients automatic prospective access to their records approaches, I wanted to update you on the College’s position and the work we’re doing in this area. This week, I wrote to the Secretary of State to outline our concerns and to call for a delay to ensure there is time for guidance to be rolled out and for general practice to prepare for this change. Read our statement on this programme.

Telephone Consultation and Triage Skills Training

Monday 28 March 2022, 9:15am to 5pm.

This online training will provide you with real understanding of how to manage the risks involved in telephone assessments in order to practise safely, effectively and efficiently. This practical day will give you realistic tools and techniques in telephone triage and consultations by using interactive exercises, real calls, group work and plenary talks.

Register for the training.

MyRCGP app

We've updated the MyRCGP app – the essential app for RCGP members. Keep up to date with the latest College news, plus manage your account, access podcasts, screencasts and toolkits, find the latest courses and events - all in one easy-to-access location.

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Post written by:

Dr Margaret Ikpoh, Vice Chair (Professional Development and Standards)

Margaret Ikpoh is a GP Partner at Holderness Health, a practice for 36,000 patients in East Yorkshire and has worked there for 12 years. She is the practice lead for research and has had previous roles with the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber as a research champion for First5 GPs and AITs.

She is also an Associate Director for Primary Care for Hull York Medical School and is a GP Trainer.

Currently she co-chairs the regional Primary Care Workforce Group with NHS England & Improvement for the North-East and Yorkshire Regional People Board.

At the RCGP, she has been involved in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Task groups and was awarded Fellow of The Year at the 2021 RCGP Inspire Awards ceremony.

Dr Michael Mulholland, Honorary Secretary

Michael is a GP partner and GP trainer at Unity Health Buckinghamshire where he has worked for over 20 years. He has had a portfolio career with an educational focus having been programme director and Associate GP dean for Buckinghamshire as part of Oxford Deanery / HEE Thames Valley.

He has particular interests in the developing Quality Improvement Methodology in primary care and the development of the Multidisciplinary workforce.

This work has continued in roles with RCGP at Faculty Regional level and most recently nationally as Vice Chair Professional Development and Standards.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP Council

Professor Martin Marshall is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a GP in Newham, East London. He is also Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health. Previously he was Programme Director for Population Health and Primary Care at UCLPartners (2014-2019), Director of Research & Development at the Health Foundation (2007-2012), Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director General in the Department of Health (2006-2007), Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester (2000-2006) and a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy. 

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and was a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission until 2012. He has advised governments in Singapore, Egypt, Canada and New Zealand, has over 230 publications in the field of quality improvement and health service redesign and his primary academic interest is in maximising the impact of research on practice. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Health Care. 

A co-founder and driving force of the Rethinking Medicine movement, Martin has a passionate commitment to the values of the NHS, patient care and ensuring the GP voice is central in a time of great change. When he’s not working, he likes being outside, preferably on a mountain or a coastal path with his wife Sue and their puppy. 

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