Welcome from your new chair

Firstly, I want to say thank you for the warm reception I’ve received since the announcement of my election. So many of you have reached out personally to congratulate and support me and it’s such an honour to be elected as your Chair, particularly to be the first South Asian female Chair of the College.

I’ve been a GP for 34 years and currently practice as a salaried GP in Mountain Ash, South Wales. I’ve also been a GP principal in Nottingham, Manchester and Cardiff, and worked in out-of-hours centres and as a locum.

Being a member of the College has given me some great opportunities and enhanced my professional, intellectual, and personal development: I’ve been an MRCGP examiner, RCGP Council representative, and sat on the Trustee Board and Ethics Committee. I was Vice Chair for Professional Development from 2015-2018.

I want every College member to have the same opportunities I've had, or better, and that’s why I want to improve communications about what the College can offer to members and look at how we can add further value to membership overall.

I will be writing to you every two weeks to update you about what the College is doing on your behalf. In January, we will also be introducing a new ‘Faculty Fortnightly’ bulletin, giving Faculties the opportunity to communicate with their local members on the issues that matter most. Please make sure that your personal preferences for receiving College bulletins are up-to-date as it’s important that you don’t miss out on key information.

I want the College to be a more inclusive environment, a ‘professional home’ for all our members. There is still much to be done to improve equality in medicine, especially for our international GPs and trainees. I’m a collaborative worker and believe the College must be a voice for all and reflect what grassroot GPs are seeing and experiencing every day. I also want to celebrate the excellent work that GPs and their teams are doing throughout the UK.

I begin my tenure as Chair as we continue to struggle through the toughest workforce and workload crisis in the history of our profession, with widening health and social inequalities in another era of austerity. As we know only too well, there are no longer enough of us to deliver the quality of care to patients that we want to. As a consequence, we are at real risk of losing the very special relationships we have with our patients, not to mention the severe impact this is having on our own wellbeing.

I’ll make it my priority to lobby for the expansion of the workforce we desperately need, but pragmatically we will also need to work with what we’ve got. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problems that face us, so I’m keen to look at what we could do for each other, within the membership network, to find, support, and share solutions.

Tackling health inequalities is another priority for me, particularly with the cost-of-living crisis. This will undoubtedly worsen health inequalities and impact on the physical and mental health of our patients, with the associated knock-on effects for our work and workload.

I am under no illusions about the challenges ahead, but I promise you that I will do everything I can over the next three years to represent your views to politicians, policymakers, and the media, so that the important work we do is understood and appreciated and we are given the resources we need to do our jobs well.

Thank you for the trust and confidence you have placed in me. I will do my very best to live up to your expectations.

About the writer

Professor Kamila Hawthorne is RCGP's Chair of Council.