Leadership in the NHS is often criticised for being top heavy, loosing relevance and importantly empowerment as it is filtered down to those working at the coal face. There is a tremendous wealth of experience and a bubbling pot of innovative ideas amongst the grassroots. They must be nurtured, supported through followership and scaled to achieve impact.
GP+ Networking and Fourteenfish have both been born from experience of the poor alternative. Duncan and I share a common background. Both GPs with multiple extended roles collected along the way. We have gone the step further beyond ‘wouldn’t it be great if…’. We have taken many difficult steps since starting that journey but plan to work synergistically to ensure digital innovation is used to bring the fulfilment back to professional development in general practice and for professional development not to add to burnout but be used to fight back against it.
GP+ Networking has been developed to support the expanding area of GPs who want an extended role (ER). This goes further than those requiring accreditation for their clinical roles. It includes clinical and non-clinical interests that showcases how dynamic a career in general practice is. I have attracted more extended roles along the journey to achieve my own in skin surgery. This is in part because the path was so convoluted and I had to do something to improve that process. I moved from a successful surgical career into general practice because of the stability and opportunity it offers, whilst maintaining my love in operating. This aspect of general practice needs to be shouted from the roof tops amidst our workforce crisis. There are others across the country that had learnt from this journey and who still faced it. What if there was a platform to connect people considering or working in general practice based on their interests, backgrounds or skills? There wasn’t, I couldn’t see it coming anytime soon so I got on and built it. It has been evolving ever since and my vision for GP+ Networking is exciting. But first things first.
Currently GP+ Networking is free to join and is profile based. It allows you to find others based on background, extended roles or interests. From this you can form group discussion or individual instant messaging to learn from each other. Documents can be downloaded from the profiles of others and shared.
Joining GP+ Networking is a direction of travel towards working in a way that makes sense for those working at grassroots. I am a partner and do my full-time hours in 3 days. Work has got to the stage that I struggle to call myself part time (or at least that is what my non-medic friends remind me). Innovation is needed to fight back from the inevitable burn out of continuing on the path of doing what has always been done whilst patients become older and more complex whilst demand throughout all ages seems to rise. I would like to mobilise and scale organisational improvements that focus on all the other aspects of general practice outside the consultation rather than taking the best bits away. Save time and share is a project that I am developing within GP+ Networking. Funding is the inevitable obstacle with any new initiative but I remain hopeful and the chances of that are increased considerably as the GP+ Network grows, so join now and tell your friends!
Dr Cathryn Dillon
Founder GP+ Networking
This month marks 2 years since I decided to take a vision of a more productive and connected primary care and set up GP+ Networking. At first it focused on improving the journey of establishing an extended role like my own in general practice and has since grown to highlight what can be achieved if we work better together, across primary care but also with secondary care.
I have had successive knock backs with funding but never have I been told my vision was a anything other than the way things need to be. That has kept my focus.
- We should understand our workforce so that we can unleash skill within it
- We should provide care closer to home
- We should share ideas and work at scale
- We should build on experience and encourage innovation
- We should have better peer support
- We should listen when so many new GP’s want an extended role
- Extended roles attracts new GPs
I have also achieved more than I realise within that short time and I am grateful to all the followers that have supported those achievements.
We have created platform that
- allows doctors to find others with the same interests and backgrounds and connect with them
- form group chats based on shared interest
- share protocols and documentation
- has boosted the image of general practice to medical students
- demonstrated the possibilities within a career in general practice and provided insipration
- allowed specialist trainees to explore general practice as a career option and talk directly to GPs.
GP+ Networking has launched in beta form and myself and the team have learnt so much. We have lots of improvements and developments ready to put into action. This particularly surrounds quality improvement, working at scale, sharing practical assistance and accreditation. I am working closely with central organisations to achieve these more ambition goals.
GP+ Networking is more than a network; more than mentoring or coaching and more than an ideas hub. It is a grassroots movement steered by its expanding membership, who understand the difficulty general practice faces but want to celebrate and demonstrate its strength and adaptability to modern healthcare delivery.
Help us grow. Share the word. Register and enjoy showcasing your career through your profile. There are no rose tinted glasses intended here but through peer support there is resilience. Warn others of the pitfalls you have faced and learn from others. Share the vision with you colleagues and help shape the future of GP+ Networking by feeding back your experience of the site and help pilot new features.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Dr Cathryn Dillon
Founder of GP+ Networking and GP Principal Cranleigh Gardens Medical Centre, Somerset
As a medical student I represented my medical school at the founding of the European Medical Student Association in Belgium and a year later became mess President in my first house job. Alongside this came a representative role with a place on the regional Junior Doctor Committee and it was the time of the 120 hour working week and the successful negotiation of a seventy-two hour week and I helped in its implementation in subsequent jobs.
Thus at the first opportunity I stood for a place in my Local Medical Committee, I was driven by being a single-parent at the time having to pay for overnight childcare, with no reimbursement for my on-call shifts.
My drive was picked up on by the LMC Chief Executive who encouraged me to go to national conferences and stand for national roles. I was encouraged to stand for the Professional Executive Committee. My former course organiser encouraged me to set up and facilitate an educational group and to apply to the RCGP Leadership Programme. These more senior doctors belief in me and support was critical and I see that GP+ Networking can provide this to GPs now, looking to develop themselves in a special interest and leadership.
I like to listen to my colleagues’ views and try and impact on our working lives. Generally it provides less income than face-to-face general practice but it gives me an opportunity to do something about the frustrations we all experience.
Nationally I have been able to influence the healthcare system we all work in and our working lives in many diverse areas and I have been particularly rewarded by my work on the Standing Commission on Carers.
We are natural leaders in our communities, whether it’s cycle paths and air quality, children’s charities or refugees but at times as leaders we are vulnerable to public criticism and it’s vital that we are well supported by experienced colleagues. I feel that the GP+ Networking will supply this.