If you trust GPs to do the right thing, they will respond in trustworthy ways

12 June 2020

A GP friend told me the other day that her job felt do-able for the first time in years. She felt a bit guilty, she said, given the pandemic, but she was slowly re-discovering her professional mojo.

She wasn’t sure whether the reduced number of patients that she was seeing was good or sustainable but one COVID side-effect she did like was the reduction in bureaucracy.
    
Data collected by the College confirms her perception that things have changed. Practices are spending 30% less time on non-patient facing administrative tasks than they were before the crisis hit and the number of GPs saying that they have enough time to treat patients adequately has increased by more than 50%.
    
This dramatic change is a consequence of decisions to relax a number of contractual and regulatory compliance activities during the crisis, most notably relating to QOF and CQC in England, as well as annual appraisal and revalidation across the UK. Concepts of 'accountability' and 'transparency' are being replaced by 'trust' and ‘proportionality’.
  
I’d like to think that policy makers will learn that if you trust GPs to do the right thing, they will respond in trustworthy ways. We are pushing that message hard and developing practical proposals to prevent bureaucracy creeping back.

  • Thank you to those of you who got in touch following last week’s column in which I called for urgent action to address inequalities and injustice, following the tragic death of George Floyd and the response by the Black Lives Matter movement. This is now available in the public area of our website, along with the statement from the Chair of our First5 Committee, Dr Ian Wood.

COVID-19 update from your College

College welcomes revalidation delay

The General Medical Council confirmed on Monday that doctors' revalidation submission dates have been put back by up to 12 months due to the pandemic. It means doctors with a revalidation date between 17 March 2020 and 16 March 2021 can have their revalidation delayed for up to a year. You can find out more online.

In response, I said: "This will come as a relief to GPs who rightly want the time and headspace to focus on what matters most in this pandemic – the frontline care of their patients.

"At a time when the NHS is facing its biggest emergency for a century, it makes no sense to divert GPs away from their practices and place them under unnecessary extra pressure.

"Revalidation should be a constructive part of a GP’s continuing professional development, but it needs time and preparation to do it well.  

"GPs have been working throughout this pandemic, caring for patients with COVID and non-COVID illness, and we will inevitably see an increase in demand for GP care in the aftermath of the crisis.

This must remain our top priority over the weeks and months ahead."

College makes the front pages

The College’s calls on the Government for a comprehensive plan to prevent a second wave of

COVID-19 made the front page of The Observer last weekend and featured on BBC’s flagship Andrew Marr programme.

We also featured in The Guardian’s front page story on Monday, discussing how the pandemic is creating an 'epidemic of loneliness' after claims that some deaths at home due to COVID-19 were going 'undetected'.

I was also interviewed by ITV News on care homes where I emphasised how hard GPs have been working to continue to deliver care to patients in these settings during the pandemic.

Exam update

Progress continues with our work to get the MRCGP up and running so that our ST3s can CCT as planned this summer, despite the disruptions to training caused by COVID-19.

In the week since we launched our new IT platform to support the new Recorded Consultation Assessment, we have had a staggering 25,500 videos uploaded!   

We continue to keep all trainees updated with the latest developments and this week have sent out booking details for the August sitting of the Applied Knowledge Test and requirements for Workplace Based Assessment after August 2020.

We have also clarified guidance around patient consent in the RCA and updated our FAQs on the RCA.

Thank you again to everyone involved in the College effort to deliver the exam in these most challenging times, and to our brilliant ST3s for their willingness and co-operation in adapting to these changes.

Observe GP

There’s more excellent news on the future GP front, with 7153 people now registered to access our Observe GP free interactive video platform.

Aimed at aspiring medics aged 16 and over, this is an alternative to work experience, providing insights into medicine, and is available 24/7.

The platform was launched in April this year, under the leadership of College Vice Chair for Membership Mike Holmes, and we hope it will have a major impact on GP recruitment in years to come.

It also features in Medical Schools Council’s Guidance on relevant experience when applying to medical school in the time of COVID-19.


Post written by

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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