Members' Advocacy Guide 2023
In today's rapidly changing environment, political engagement is crucial to secure action to improve general practice and ensure the voice of GPs is heard in Parliament.
We know how much politicians value hearing from frontline experts - that’s why we’re inviting RCGP members to ask their local politician to visit their practice. Allowing decision-makers to see first-hand the conditions GPs and their teams are working under is important for fostering understanding and creating the change we want to see for general practice.
The RCGP Advocacy Guide is designed to give you the tools to engage with local politicians, get them along to your practice, and help spread our vision for the future of general practice.
Choose the relevant link below to contact your local politician:
How to hold a successful practice visit
Contact the RCGP Campaigns and Public Affairs team
- Get in touch. As your membership body we are here to help you. The below guide offer some tips, but we are keen to know if you hear back from your local representative and support you for any visit. You can contact the team here:
Agreeing to host a meeting
- Inform your colleagues. Different practices will have different rules and systems for gaining permission to invite their MP/MS/MSP to their practice. In many practices it will be important to get the permission of all the partners before you arrange a visit.
Securing the meeting
- Invite your MP/MS/MSP. If you'd like to invite your MP/MS/MSP to visit your practice, you can use a template letter designed by the RCGP which you can edit with your own information and send to your MP/MS/MSP here:
Alternatively, if you'd like to write your own letter, you can find your MP/MS/MSP details here:
- Arrange the visit. It may take some time for your MP/MS/MSP to respond. Once you have received a response from them, they will most likely put you in touch with their constituency office staff to arrange the visit. Remember to ask how long their visit is likely to be so that you can plan accordingly. You may be asked to give a short summary of the issue that you would like to raise so that your MP/MS/MSP can be prepared.
There can be some restrictions on arranging visits in the 6 weeks prior to an election. It shouldn’t be an issue for these visits of this nature, but do drop us an email if it comes up.
If you are having difficulty getting your local politician to engage and visit, you can always book an appointment in their weekly surgery first - once they have met you, they may be more likely to visit your practice.
Before the meeting
- Plan the visit. Once you have confirmed the date and time, confirm with the MP/MS/MSP how long they can stay with you and what they would like to do:
- Meet GPs and staff?
Make sure practice staff are aware of the visit. You may want to work with the practice staff to decide responsibilities on the day of the visit.
- Invite the local media for a photocall?
If you and the MP/MS/MSP are both happy, then you can invite local media and any other guests with plenty of notice. If local press photographers or videographers are going to attend, or if you want to share photos on social media, you need to make sure permissions are sought.
- Agree on social media posts
The MP/MS/MSP will generally want to use social media to publicise their trip. You can also thank them for coming on your own social media alongside a picture.
- Meet GPs and staff?
- Know what you want to say and show. This is the most important part of the visit. Your MP/MS/MSP will want to know what the issues facing general practice means to you specifically – how it’s impacted you professionally and personally, and most importantly what it means for your patients.
This doesn’t mean you should only talk about the negatives: this is also a chance to talk about how you help your patients and about any innovative work that your practice does.
And don’t worry about the national picture. You can access national statistics and key messages on our website. However, the aim of the visit will be to share your local experience.
- Prepare an agenda. The visit does not have to be seamless, but it might be helpful to prepare an outline a structure for the visit. You may be asked to share this outline with the MP/MS/MSP office, so they know what to expect on the day.
Think about what activities will showcase the practice and when you’ll get a chance to talk one-to-one to your MP/MS/MSP in a quieter space. Be mindful of the time each segment of the visit will take so you don’t have to rush through things.
After the meeting
- Send a ‘thank you’. Send a letter or email to your MP/MS/MSP to thank them for the meeting. If you committed to provide them with any additional information, or a local press release, you could include this in your message.
- Consider sending out a press release. After the visit you may want to reach out to some local papers and news outlets in your area who might be interested in covering your representatives visit. The easiest way to do this is to search your local newspaper, radio station or TV outlet online and drop them an email with the press release attached.
Alternatively, you might agree with your MP/MS/MSP that they will publicise the visit. We have prepared a draft press release for politicians for you to share in this instance.
- Tell us about your visit. Please do let us know how the visit went. We're ready to answer any questions you may have, or support with follow-up actions after the meeting.
Members in Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive is currently not sitting and therefore, there are no political institutions functioning in Northern Ireland. For this reason, this campaign is not currently applicable to RCGP members living in Northern Ireland but if you are interested in our campaigning work, please do get in touch with our Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Cliona McCarney.