This report is not a detailed report of the outcomes of the first day. As a GPC rep, I have no vote and so am not always in the auditorium for every motion. It is more of a narrative for my constituents in East and West Sussex.... Your LMC reps will not doubt report back in some detail in due course and of course the BMA and GPC will publish detailed information about Conference in the next few days.
Arriving slightly late because of problems on the underground, I discovered a lack of both wifi and phone signal. A quick petition to the Agenda committee got them to at least look in to it! Apparently the bandwidth available was inadequate. This will be considered in future years. I was not alone in being unhappy with this, especially given the other meeting going on in the afternoon at the King's Fund which we could not rapidly respond to as a result.
A less rousing than expected speech from Laurence Buckman, his last as GPC Chairman, met with a long standing ovation, to his obvious embarrassment. As a State of the Nation address, we are in a very difficult position. His speech this evening will probably be less politically correct and more humorous.
That so many GPs were speaking so critically of the direction of travel speaks volumes about the professions' feelings on what is happening to our NHS and General Practice. Motion after motion on the enormous problems with resources (reducing) and pressures (increasing) has been passed, many unanimously.
NHS111 needs an enquiry, independent and external, incorporating an examination of the use of the most inexperienced people for triage, contrary to all the evidence about effective triage. Revalidation and appraisal need consistency and a national approach. None of this is news but now it is Conference Policy.
The Primary Care Workforce issues were discussed at length, with so many wishing to speak that timing had to be restricted. The ongoing theme of lack of goodwill, feeling worn down and that enough is enough continued. My own perception is that calling on the Government to take measures is a bit like asking King Canute to put his wellies on. We need to be more proactive and come up with solutions rather than react to the latest mad idea. The problem is to get them to listen. Communication with members also needs to improve, a matter raised by more than one speaker. Recruitment is a major problem all over the country with low numbers of applicants.
That GPC and its negotiators have lost the faith of the profession is a matter which generated enormously strong feelings on both sides of the debate, though debate was short. A stern, indeed ill-tempered, rebuttal from Laurence Buckman swung the day, the Motion being lost comprehensively.
I spent some time after lunch networking with GPC and LMC colleagues before returning to the auditorium. It is both useful and pleasant to put faces to names and meet people who otherwise I may only interact with electronically. Sharing ideas is a useful way to influence opinion, or indeed be influenced.
GP education and training caused much interest, covering extending training, international medical graduates' difficulties attaining similar grades to UK-trained graduates. CQC is not an organisation we have much confidence in and OFSTED style ratings will be unhelpful.
The day was characterised by irritation, anger, frustration. There is an obvious feeling of dissatisfaction in how matters have been progressed or not, in what achievements have been made or not. It will be interesting to see what happens in July, when a new Chair of GPC and negotiating team are elected by GPC.