Farewell and 'thank you' from Carey

18 December 2020

My last Chair's blog

It feels strange to be writing the last Chair’s blog of this year and my last blog as Chair of RCGP Scotland before I finish up on 31 December.

What a rollercoaster of a three years it has been! Time has passed both quickly and slowly, but throughout it all, I have felt the enormous privilege of representing GPs in Scotland.  

I have been reflecting on what have been my personal highlights during this time.

There are too many to mention. My visit to the Highlands last summer to meet and learn from GP colleagues working in remote and rural areas.

The ‘Exceptional Potential of General Practice’ Conference in Glasgow, a truly inspiring event. My journeys up snowy roads to participate in fun medical student conferences.

My visit to the Deep End practices in Glasgow. The launch of our campaign, ‘From the Frontline’.

The many opportunities that I have had over the last three years to participate in writing, recording, teaching and speaking projects and events.

And the professional relationships and friendships that have formed, within the GP community, and far beyond. I have learned so much.

Priorities over the past three years

My priorities during my time as Chair have been to build the GP workforce, improve the interfaces of care, improve practitioner wellbeing, and bolster the role of general practice to address persisting health inequalities in Scotland.

I have sought to champion the vital role of the generalist in the delivery of person-centred care and realistic medicine, and for safe and sustainable use of the NHS through realistic public messaging. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of much of this work.

There is no doubt that for many of us, these have been some of the hardest months of our professional careers. I am incredibly proud of what general practice has achieved during this time.

Working on the frontline of the NHS, we have worked tirelessly in our teams to shield, to care-plan, to learn new ways of remote working, to staff the COVID-19 pathways, to vaccinate, to educate, to advocate, and to keep our staff and our patients safe.

And throughout, we have stayed open and accessible when many other parts of the NHS had to pause or close their services. Through necessity we have had to prioritise the most urgent care needs of our patients, but where possible we have also restarted more routine work. 

Much of our work is under-recognised and hidden, but there is no doubt in my mind that the work of general practice has protected our hospitals, and society, from the worst excesses of COVID-19.  

I believe there have been silver linings too, as I have shared before.

The value of strong interfaces has finally been fully recognised. The need for reliable IT systems too. Wellbeing has never been higher on the agenda.

Our more virtual ways of working, and the need for collaborative decision-making during the pandemic has driven and enabled stronger relationships across the wider health and social care system.

There is greater understanding and respect for the component parts, a greater awareness of our inter-dependencies, and a recognition of the strength in achieving a collective voice.

"It truly has been a team effort"

There are too many people to thank for all that we have achieved during this time, for it has truly been a team effort.

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my colleagues on Scottish Council, Executive Board and my Deputy Chairs for their passion and wise counsel.

But my greatest thanks go to the staff team at RCGP Scotland, who have worked tirelessly throughout, and have helped steer the ship through some very choppy waters.  

I am also grateful to all the members who have been in touch during my time, and for my strong working relationships with colleagues in the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Scottish General Practitioners Committee of the BMA, the Primary Care Clinical Professions’ Group and the Primary Care Division of the Scottish Government.

We have also forged a strong working relationship with our Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman MSP, whom I met with for the final time at the end of last week.

I have always found her to be keen to listen and understand, and to be very supportive of the work of general practice.

We discussed several important issues when we met, including bolstering the interface, realistic public messaging, COVID-19 vaccination priorities and communication with the profession.

We agreed on a number of important actions to take forward over the coming weeks.

What's next?

In January, I am looking forward to returning to more clinical work at my practice in Craigmillar.

My partners have been enormously supportive over the last three years, keeping me grounded and informed, and it will be good to reconnect with them, and of course my patients.

I am also excited to be taking on the new role of Chair of the Deep End Group, following in the hard-act-to-follow footsteps of Dr Anne Mullin.

And so now, Alasdair and I hand over to the fantastic new triumvirate leadership team: Dr David Shackles and Dr Chris Williams as Joint Chairs, and Dr Catriona Morton as Deputy Chair (Policy). They bring a wealth and breadth of experience and skills to the team, and a passion for general practice.

I hope you all manage some rest and downtime over the festive period.

Stay safe, stay well, and thank you again for the amazing work that you do.


Post written by

Dr Carey Lunan, Chair RCGP Scotland

Dr Carey Lunan is a GP partner in one of Edinburgh's Deep End practices and is the current Chair of RCGP Scotland.

Prior to this, she held the role of Executive Officer for Patients and Public and Interface working. She also sits on the RCGP Ethics Committee.

Her priorities during her time as Chair include a focus on practitioner wellbeing, improving the interface between primary and secondary care, and growing and retaining the GP workforce.

She has made tackling health inequalities a high priority and has consistently called for the need to engage the public in a national conversation about the realistic role of the modern NHS and the importance of collective social responsibility.

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