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Do you ever get that feeling that you have only gotten to where you are through a series of chance events?
For me, the initial chance was forgetting to sign in at a course which caused me to see an advert that must have been left on the table for the course organiser to announce, but they had run out of time. It was advertising a Fellowship spending time in Public Health. I applied and was fortunate enough to be offered the post. Once in the post I saw a conference that seemed to be relevant to some of the work that I was doing. I applied, mistakenly thinking it was an educational conference. In fact it was an introduction to medical politics – not necessarily something I would have chosen to go to. Still, I only realised my error once I had arrived and Newcastle was a long way from which to go home. I thought I would sit quietly at the back and listen to others. Debating was not top of my list of favourite activities. I thought it would be quite dull. Yet, somehow as the weekend progressed I found myself very quickly drawn into the thick of it. It was freeing to be able to discuss the issues facing our profession in a forum where others had the time to listen, offer their own opinion and there was a faint glimmer of hope that something might come of it.
At that time I also had the opportunity to work for the LMC. It was an organisation that as a Registrar had appeared somewhat shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless as the year progressed I very quickly realised that this organisation could help shift the mountains facing general practice at a local level and sometimes further. They explain and negotiate with organisations that influence general practice workload – the hospitals, the PCTs (as they were then) and even more mythically to me at the time, SHAs - now working with the increasingly fragmented system including CCGs, NHS England, Public Health etc. I suddenly realised that whilst General Practice has the ability to influence strongly their own microcosm in their buildings, there are much bigger forces surrounding them. Your LMC represents GPs. To do so at its best we need to hear all the voices at the table.
I am now a sessional GP, a mother and working for Wessex LMCs. Medical politics is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be yours. If you have read to the end of this article, have you thought that perhaps this is one of your chance events? Why not contact your local LMC to observe a meeting? It will usually count for CPD too. You would be very welcome to sit quietly at the back, but you may just find the possibility of making that difference the thing you’ve been missing.
Laura Edwards is a Medical Directors of Wessex LMC & a Sessional GP