The impact of COVID-19 on College operations

7 August 2020

Over the last few months, Mair and I have had to address a range of COVID-19 related topics. Many have been difficult and challenging to discuss. This week is no exception.

RCGP responds to the economic impact of COVID-19

As we see in the news, the health emergency is also a crisis for the economy.

Businesses and third sector organisations are having to make decisions which would have seemed unthinkable at the start of the year and the RCGP is sadly no exception.

Already facing a degree of belt-tightening, our College has found itself in a position in which there is a large shortfall of income because events, both run internally and booked using College-owned facilities, have had to be cancelled.

It has been necessary to examine how best to restructure the College and how it operates so that we can continue to offer the best service to our members within a sustainable business model for the long-term.

Regrettably, it is likely we will be losing some valued colleagues and consultation meetings between staff and managers are currently underway.

It is important to stress that this is a genuine consultation process in which alternative proposals for how the College could be structured will be fully considered.

I appreciate that this creates a very difficult time for the College staff. It is also difficult for our members who in the midst of responding to a pandemic are now also aware of the added need for sensitivity when speaking to College staff.

These are tough decisions but, unfortunately, they are necessary for the long-term interests of the College and to protect the support and services we provide to our members.

In particular, I want to reassure members that our Faculty structure and Welsh Council will remain.

A final version of the revised structure will not be confirmed until late September or early October.

I am grateful for the professionalism of all those at RCGP Wales and across the College who are hard at work for our members day in, day out during this difficult period.

Digital first

There is another aspect to the restructure which I hope presents an opportunity to widen the access to the College.

Over the last six months we have seen a vast acceleration in the use of video conferencing and remote meetings.

Aside from admiring the artwork on the walls of our colleagues and the occasional sight of a child or pet walking past mid-meeting, this has proven a useful way to bring more people together more often.

In the past our Faculty meetings have tended to take place in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Llandudno. All are reasonable locations for a physical meeting, but they are never going to be convenient locations for all our members.

As the College seeks to pursue a 'digital first' approach, I hope our members from Aberystwyth, Porthmadog, Welshpool and Llandrindod Wells, to name but a few, find it just as convenient to get involved. 

The changes ahead of us in the College will have their challenges, but we will retain a strong focus on providing an excellent service to our members and leadership for the profession.

I’m sure that we will emerge from this difficult period with a sustainable College and even more GPs engaged in our work.

Post written by

Professor Peter Saul, Joint Chair of RCGP Wales

Professor Peter Saul qualified in 1985 and currently is a partner in Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham. He combines his work in the practice with his other professional passion of medical education, in the role of Associate Postgraduate Dean in the Wales Deanery. He also works one session a week running the Paediatric Allergy Clinic at Chester Hospital.

Peter has been an active member of his local RCGP faculty, serving as Chair and as Treasurer. He is also actively involved with the media, with a medical column in the local newspaper and as a regular radio contributor.

For fun he rides a bike (his favourite being his red Brompton), and when in need of a loftier perspective he flies his part owned light aircraft from Welshpool Airport. He lives on a smallholding and has three grown up children, one of whom is a junior doctor in London.

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