Setting the agenda

Being chair of a regional consultants committee allows you to gather expertise and drive changes in terms and conditions, writes chair of South Western regional consultants committee Richard Clarkson

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 3 June 2020

As you are reading this blog, I suspect you know what an RCC (regional consultants committee) is.

In case you do not, in a nutshell it brings together consultants from all local negotiating committees within a region, usually the LNC chairs but trusts can send multiple representatives or deputies. In addition, regional BMA industrial relations officers attend as do representatives from other branches of practice in secondary care. The agenda is all issues around secondary care medical staff welfare concentrating on terms and conditions of practice.

The most important thing about being an RCC chair is to surround yourself by people who know more than you do. This starts with the IROs whose institutional memory and wisdom of all things contractual is probably your most invaluable asset. Secondly, you can often rely on your predecessors to guide you in a similar manner along with the more senior members having had most dilemmas thrown at them before. Finally, and in many ways most importantly, the new members and more junior consultants in your committee can add the innovative and different perspectives essential to challenge set ideas. Everyone will have their area of expertise to tap into.

In keeping with chairing any meeting your role is making your RCC greater than its constituent parts and as chair conducting your small orchestra of contributors is the main skill you need. It is also important to allow space to get input from other branches of practice, junior doctor and staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor contributors are vital in this role. Each of the committee’s consultant members will bring issues from their LNCs which naturally often form common themes for discussion. RCCs can then act as an effective body providing checks and balances to regional HR and management practice, promoting the good and hopefully preventing the misguided.

Examples of success in the South West include equitable annual leave for SAS doctors, improved supporting professional activities and study leave allowances (preventing races to the bottom). Contribution to national debate on multiple topics from performance pay to career sustainability and most notable challenging and helping to remove the threat of a detrimental South West pay consortium.

By cultivating an engaging and productive committee, membership will grow and healthy development will ensue. The voice from your region will then be clearly heard through motions at the consultant conference and the annual representative meeting helping to set national BMA policy. However, the most satisfying outcomes are when you help colleagues locally to care for themselves and their patients.

Richard Clarkson is a consultant radiologist and chair of South Western regional consultants committee