To put it mildly, we’re in interesting times. We have a clear steer from the wider GP community that they want a college that is actively engaged in promoting General Practice and negotiating at the top table. There’s also a sense out there that the college haven’t been delivering in some areas, that it’s too easy to get confused and think the college is an office in Wellington, to forget that it’s really a community of GPs throughout the length and breadth of Aotearoa New Zealand.
I’ve represented Hawkes Bay on the National Advisory Council of the college, so I’ve an understanding of some of the national issues. I’ve also sat on Clinical Council of our local DHB, so I’ve a good sense of the secondary care interface issues. More importantly, I sit on the board of City Medical, our local out of hours co-operative in Napier, which is a GP cooperative company with more than 50 members, so I’ve experience in working and providing governance support with the wider General Practice community.
From a governance perspective I feel there are two areas to focus on. There’s some basic corporate governance work, setting and enforcing KPIs for things like time to answer emails, staff turnover and basic member support services. While this stuff appears simple, establishing a good culture of working for members is the crucial platform for anything else the college wants to do.
Then there’s a bigger piece of strategic work on where we place the college in terms of primary care provision. I’m fed up hearing of all the fancy new things that will get funding while General Practice languishes. We are the sleeping giant of primary care, and need to wake up to the fact that if we don’t own the out of hospital space soon, we’ll lose it forever.
That means sending a clear message about the value of general practice and the capacity of our members. The college has lots of experience of educating down – to students, trainees or fellowship candidates – but now we’re going to have to educate out – to the wider community of patients and whānau, and also educate up – to Ministry, Government and funders so they understand our value.
I want to serve on the board of our college of GPs. I want to play my part in putting general practice back where our patients need it to be: the very centre of healthcare provision in Aotearoa New Zealand.