… the Royal College of GPs (and how not to get out of meetings on time)

For over a decade, I’ve been on the board of the North West faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). It was even my turn to be chair a few years ago, and I’m genuinely proud to have been elected a fellowship. These faculties round the country discuss issues affecting general practice and feed back to central college in London, where grownups make the decisions. It is perhaps the last stronghold of the entirely uncynical and lovely tweed-jacketed, elbow-patched family doctor. Which is why in a competitive corporate healthcare economy we’re perhaps a bit more rubbish than we’d like. Imagine Paddington Bear on the Apprentice.

The following is a transcript of every meeting I’ve been to since 2011. We circulate it as minutes every time to save Linda some typing, and it hasn’t been spotted yet.

CHAIR: So the last item on the agenda is to discuss something really enthusiastically. I’m looking forward to some really robust debate. I know everyone’s flagging, two of us want to leave early, and United are in the champions league tonight so we’ll aim to be wrapped up by eight.

1:            Can I dip in first?  I always do because all I do is whinge that it’s already a done deal, all the decisions are made in London, and I don’t need the extra work.  Why can’t things stay the same as they are?  Also, I resent being here for free on a weeknight.

2:            I’m new to the board so I think that’s great!  I think everything’s great!

3:            after a long pause.  I’m the voice of reason who everyone listens to, and I have a long list of reasons why the thing we’re debating is a lot more complex than everyone had thought, so our response is going to be nuanced and multifaceted rather than a simple “yes or no” answer.

4&5:      silently.  But Man United are in Liepzig!

2:            Great!

CHAIR:  aware that 3 is right but the big hand is rapidly approaching the 12.  Good.  So what are we going to feed back to central college?

6:            I’d like to interrupt here…

4&5:      Check watches, silently die a little inside, hope to catch the second half.

6:            … at this point in the debate I point out that what we are discussing is a side issue and what we should be discussing is something only very vaguely connected. But because it’s to do with equality or the inverse care law nobody dares criticise so I can bang on about this for quite a bit.

CHAIR:  Can I just tactfully acknowledge 6’s point but steer us back to the issue we’re meant to be discussing because 4 and 5 are trying to quietly tidy up their stationery to leave without anyone noticing?

               Shall we say we’re broadly in favour of the thing, but that anything not to do with London needs fleshing out before we commit?

ALL:       simultaneously.  Yes, No!,  maybe,  I suppose so, yeah or “Oh the humanity!”

CHAIR:  Any other business?

4&5:      God, no!  Come on you reds!

CHAIR:  weeping.  Thanks, everyone.

2:            Great!

5 thoughts on “… the Royal College of GPs (and how not to get out of meetings on time)

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