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Some of you may have noticed that general practice in the UK is in crisis. It’s hard not to, in my view. As a result, LMCs and GPC called a special LMCs conference to ‘decide what actions are needed to ensure GPs can deliver a safe and sustainable service’.
I was (gob-smackingly) delighted to be elected deputy chair of the agenda committee at last year’s LMC conference, and so, as a wee bonus, was deputy chair of the special conference too. In December, we had asked for LMCs to focus only on those essential things that may prevent general practice from imploding, but still received a colossal 590 plus motions to wade through. This was a huge amount of work and seriously cut into my normal festive period carousing!
So, in between the turkey, crackers and auld-lang-syne, we got cracking. We decided to move away from the traditional way of conference debating, ie 35-40 motions very quickly debated and voted on per day. So man- and womanfully we chopped nearly 600 motions down to 16 crux debates in the hope that we would have the chance to properly debate some meaty issues.
We had to try to balance debate that expressed the true desperation and strength of feeling, with solutions that were do-able, lawful and would not potentially alienate the public and media… an almost impossible task!
Inevitably we were criticised by some for the motions being too strong, and by others for them not being strong enough… I learned very quickly that everyone thinks and wants different things.
The conference got off to a shaky start, with an early opposition to the day’s agenda, which was rejected, but finally got under way, with a fantastically rousing speech from Chaand, the BMA GPs committee chair. We then settled down to debate the 16 motions – you can watch them here (if you have a spare five hours or so). We debated workload (we’re drowning under it), workforce (we are an endangered species) the future of the NHS, regulation (CQC got a good kicking), premises, funding (give us some), indemnity, and finally solutions.
We purposefully left an hour for the solutions debate where the conference voted for identifying lawful actions we can take, such as work we can put a stop to and canvassing GPs on undated resignations, if a credible rescue package cannot be agreed with the Government within six months.
It was a jam-packed day, with many rousing, tub-thumping speeches. As we left – some to the Unite rally in support of GPs outside the conference centre, others home to family or on to a night out – I couldn’t help feeling a wee bit bruised and battered but possibly a tiny bit more hopeful…