Middlewood at the Royal College of GPs Conference

The Royal College of General Practitioner’s annual conference always provides an opportunity for reflection. There were a couple of themes this year that stood out:

The massive pressures that are on the health service as a whole, and General Practice in particular, are abundantly clear to the vast majority of the population. There has been overwhelming support for GP surgeries from across the country, but sadly there has also been some malicious criticism from sections of the media and sadly parts of government. This has unfortunately caused considerable upset and harm to many extremely hardworking, caring colleagues who are often working 14 hour days to meet the current demands. However, the mood of RCGP conference was one of immense pride in the work of primary care.

Many high profile figures went to extraordinary lengths to attend the conference in person to show their admiration for astonishing efforts of primary care over the last couple of years. Chief Medical Office, Professor Chris Whitty travelled for 8 hours to give a 30 minute address and specifically to thank everyone who works in General Practice, adding, “where we would have been if not for General Practice, would be catastrophically worse…”.  I was privileged to be part of conference to hear words of gratitude in person, but I know that your regular expressions of thanks to my Middlewood colleagues mean just as much. Please do keep them coming – we are feeling the strain.

The second theme re-emphasised the ongoing need for change in the way healthcare has to be delivered to meet the increased workload and needs of communities, whilst still maintaining the critical aspects of ‘traditional General Practice’ that we all hold so dear. Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the College talked about General Practice needing, “…to get big in order to stay small…”, and from a local prospective, I was again heartedly reassured that Middlewood is well and truly on the right track. Indeed, we are a considerable way ahead of many Surgeries up and down the country.

Leading the way, whilst bringing some pleasant recognition, can be uncomfortable for some and can lead to some misunderstandings. Take, for example, the current debate in some sections of the media over face to face appointments. As many of you will be well aware we were offering a variety of appointments types long before covid struck.  Our clinical model offered patients the chance to express a preference for online, telephone, video or face to face consultations, and like the vast majority of the General Practices across the country, we continued to offer face to face appointments throughout the pandemic.  When we look at our data carefully, it is worth noting that we see about 25% more people face to face than actually request an in person appointment. We have consistently been able to do this because other patients making requests, are comfortable with and can be appropriately advised and managed with a telephone call or an online interaction. This is very important and provides an example of how us all working together facilities safe, effective and modern healthcare.

So, times are tough – but General Practice as a whole is fighting hard for the communities we know and serve, is appreciated by the vast majority of the population and your local Surgery is leading the way to ensure it stays that way.

Thank you for your continued support.