Scottish Council elects Joint Chairs

20 November 2020

Update from Scottish Council

On Wednesday evening I chaired my twelfth, and final, Scottish Council. It was an emotional meeting for me.

The last three years have been a rollercoaster, and I have hugely appreciated and admired the wisdom and experience that colleagues on Scottish Council have given me.

It’s strange to have farewells in a digital format, and I am looking forward to the day when we can come together to reflect and celebrate. I’m not quite leaving yet, though! Alasdair Forbes, Deputy Chair (Policy) and I will be staying on until the end of the year as part of a slightly extended term.

The most exciting news from Scottish Council was that we have a new Chair to announce - even better, we have two new Chairs! Dr David Shackles and Dr Chris Williams will take over from me in January 2021 as Joint Chairs of Scottish Council.

This is a model that has worked well for Welsh Council and offers the benefit of greatly extending the experience and skills brought to the role, as well as resilience and sustainability.

David, who is currently RCGP Scotland’s Executive Officer for Interface and Out of Hours, has worked as a GP for 26 years in Tayside and brings expertise and experience in education, training and interface working.

Chris, who is currently our Clinical Lead for IT as well as Chair of North Scotland Faculty, has worked as a GP in the Highlands for nine years and brings expertise and experience in digital and remote and rural healthcare.

David and Chris, together with Dr Catriona Morton as the recently announced Deputy Chair (Policy) will create a strong and dynamic team as we move into the next chapter, and Alasdair and I are excited to pass on the baton to these fantastic colleagues when the time comes. 

Other highlights of our meeting of Scottish Council included a lively discussion on sustainability and climate change which was led by Dr Munro Stewart who will be updating further on this important topic in a blog next week.

COVID-19 vaccine

The other important news this week has been around the developments in the new COVID-19 vaccines, and how they will be delivered in Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport announced yesterday that delivery of the vaccine will be led by Health Boards across Scotland in close partnership with general practice. General practice historically has a great deal of experience and success in delivering mass vaccination campaigns to our local communities.

Our flexibility, adaptability, efficiency and accessibility are key elements of this.

I am keen to encourage practices, where capacity allows, to take as active a part as possible in this unprecedented global vaccination campaign.

We also shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the relationships of trust that we have with our patients and their families when it comes to delivering a new vaccine that has necessarily had to be developed and tested in an extremely rapid time frame.

It is crucial that there is honesty and transparency around the fact that we cannot know all there is to know about this new vaccine, and individuals will need to make their own informed choices, based on the information that is available.

It will be vital to have a central point of information that patients can be directed to, to help them make this choice.

The challenge for us all as healthcare professionals will be in addressing valid concerns, accepting the limitations of the knowledge and evidence base, trusting the processes of the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (see latest statement) and being able to spot the 'fake news'!

On that point, I am very much looking forward to attending a virtual debate with Q&A on Monday 30 November at 19:00, hosted by Edinburgh Medical School and Students' Council: 'In an age of fake news, who can we trust for medical information?'. This event is free and open to all, and is now open for registration.

Update on shielding and fit notes

You may remember in one of my recent blogs, I shared my concerns, echoed by many of our members, regarding a letter from the CMO office that was issued to patients in the shielding category which advised them to contact their GP to discuss the possibility of obtaining a fit note if they felt that their workplaces could not be made COVID-19 secure.

As I stated at the time, we were unfortunately not sighted on the contents of this letter before it was issued, and we had significant concerns regarding the potential consequences both in terms of generating additional workload within general practice and the potential medico-legal implications of this approach, which differed from the first wave of COVID-19, when the CMO letter constituted the fit note.

Since then, I have had an extremely useful meeting with the MDDUS to discuss in more detail the medico-legal implications of this for GPs.

The CEO of MDDUS, Chris Kenny, has kindly written to both myself and Dr Andrew Cowie from BMA’s SGPC to provide some guidance and further thoughts on the issue. I wanted to share this with you as you and your practice team may find this useful when dealing with shielding queries from patients.

WebEx - interface working in primary care

I am looking forward to participating in the upcoming Primary Care Resilience WebEx Series on Tuesday 1 December between 13:00 and 14:00.

I will be talking about effective partnership working at the interface, an issue that has gained momentum and awareness throughout the pandemic and will be joined by Dr Elaine Turner, RCGP Interface Groups Clinical Lead, Dr Lorien Cameron-Ross, Clinical Director (Out of Hours), NHS Highland and Lech Rymaszewski, Clinical Advisor, Modernising Patient Pathways Programme, Scottish Government. The event is free to attend and you can book your place now.

Business continuity and mitigating the risks of COVID-19

Lastly, I wanted to let you know about a really useful resource on business continuity for practices which was emailed out to GPs through primary care networks earlier this week.

It has been jointly produced by Scottish Government (with particular thanks to Fiona Duff) and RCGP Scotland (with particular thanks to Dr Scott Jamieson) and pulls together useful learning, links and resources and I think will be an invaluable asset to practices.

This resource will be hosted live on the SHOW website and the RCGP COVID-19 resource hub in the very near future.

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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