Reflections on 2017 – a tad late!

The New Year has come and gone and it’s a good a time as any to reflect on the progress but also the challenges that the JIC has faced in the last 12 months. When 2017 still seemed fresh in January, the JIC still had Sinan as Chair and Sandy as Head of International and I was somewhere in Japan.  And now I get to look back on this year and, yes, it’s been a really epic year for the JIC.

Gains

New team

We welcome Cemal (Deputy Chair), Sam (Research Lead), Felicity (Research Deputy), Aliki (Image Lead), David (Image Deputy), Daniel (Beyond Europe Lead), Vongai (Beyond Europe Deputy), and Julia (Erasmus Deputy). As sad as I am to see the old JIC members leave, having such a new team is also very exciting. I spend time chatting on the phone to each of our new members to get to know them when they join and every time I can’t help feeling really stoked by the energy and the creativity! There is amazing diversity of experience in the new group and I have real CV envy – I’m excited about you (the reader) getting to know them over the next three years and watching them grow in their potential. Even in the short space of time, I feel a real connection and I am so excited about harnessing the energy of everyone in the group!

This obviously means that we had to say some goodbyes and that was for Eugene (Research Lead), Hannah (Research Deputy), Deepa (Image Lead) and Anushka (Image Deputy) and of course Sinan, our previous Chair. Thanks for all the inspiration and hard work and for driving the JIC collectively to where it is today.

Global Health Roadshows

We have submitted to the RCGP and have had accepted the Global Health Roadshow which are local Faculty-funded evening events. The idea is that we get to run low-key local evening events around the country. It’s still a prototype but we have managed London (December), Vale of Trent (March) and Mersey/North West (March) Faculties but we are trying really hard to get this locally to each area. These educational events are designed as a networking event but also for educational learning. We really hope that you take advantage of these and please do let me know at Chairjic@rcgp.org.uk if you would like to see one in your local area and we will try our utmost to make this happen.

Symposium

This year we had an amazing one-day event (which I was unable to attend because I was in Japan) but it was met with such good feedback that we plan to bring it back in 2018. This is an opportunity to feel inspired and get networking. We had speakers from Doctors of the World and from the ex-JIC members to bring together a wealth of knowledge. Speakers are yet to be confirmed for the 2018 symposium but watch this space. We will not disappoint.

Dragon’s Den

I’m not sure how hush hush this is supposed to be but we’re really hoping that this becomes a thing at the RCGP annual conference even though it was only a twinkle in Cemal’s eye two years ago. The idea is that everyone pitches an idea to our dragons (this year was Maureen Baker, Sandy Mathers and Terry Kemple) who then question the concept. Last year, the theme was what can the NHS learn from other countries. We had a great spread getting ideas from Thailand, Oman, Japan, Portugal and Uganda. It keeps getting better and fingers crossed the RCGP will allow us to run it as a regular event.

AiT/First5 link

We have managed to secure a non-voting seat on the AiT and First5 committees. For those of you don’t know, the RCGP has two separate committees to represent the (non-global health) needs of GP’s early in their career. What I love about this collaboration is that we have an opportunity to work closer with GPs not within our echochamber. I appreciate that global health is not everyone’s thing but reaching out to the unconverted is one of my aims as Chair. Thank you to Jodie and to Sophie (Chairs of the First5 and AiT committees respectively) for their input and support on this.

Advocacy

One of my proudest moments this year was when I got to pitch to the NHS of all four nations about why we need to welcome back our home-grown GP’s who have gone abroad. We need to make the returner’s system easier and more transparent to combat the shortage in GP. The privilege of representing my colleagues is mind-blowing and this is what the JIC is all about. We are here to represent and to advocate for those who may not be able to. Email me at Chairjic@rcgp.org.uk if you want your views to be heard or feel that a particular barrier needs to be addressed. Also, we have been asked by Health Education England to pass on any particular frustrations that people face to improve the system.

Challenges

New data protection laws

We’ve been informed that, as of next April, the laws are changing, which means that we will have to be extra careful on how we manage our membership details. The rules are pretty specific and we have been in close discussions with the RCGP in how to navigate our rather informal membership base to comply. Having chatted about this with Cemal, we’re thinking of having an official membership (which would be free) to make this work. This is going to be an ongoing discussion and we’ll unveil any big plans soon.

Funding

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. One of my jobs is to make sure the books are balanced and we have quite a tight budget. We only have enough money allocated to us to just about cover our conference tickets so we have to come up with innovative ways of covering any new costs such as the Symposium that we want to run. Otherwise I have to cross my fingers that someone on my team will claim out of their study budget. I feel like the frugal mum holding onto the purse strings – a total fun sponge.
Sinan and Sandy (previous Head of the RCGP International) secured funding from Faculties to fund our conference exchange in October which was a massive win.  To take this further, we’re hoping that over the next three years we can start measuring some of our outcomes and make a business case on how much the JIC brings to the RCGP so that we can have our annual budget reviewed.

The future

I have a very strong vision for the JIC, in fact the whole of general practice within the realms of global health.

If you’ve been following the blog, you will know that I really believe that we, as general practitioners, have an incredible skill and we are an essential part of the workforce, whether that is in a low-income or high-income country. I feel that, if you choose to have an international career, that this should be a transparent career path and should be easy to navigate because the NHS needs people like us.

I want doctors to understand the crucial role we have and to recognise the privilege we have in the UK as general practitioners with such a well-established system, even if 99% of the time it doesn’t feel like it on the shop floor. We plan to continue providing educational events through the RCGP and WONCA conferences, our symposium and our GH roadshows. We want to spread the notion of sustainable and ethical field work and promote collaboration rather than a unidirectional development work.
I want the JIC to become a community and a forum to share ideas and experiences so that we can feed off each other. We hope to deliver symposia and roadshows so that you can network with like-minded people and share opportunities. We want to be able to guide people through their career paths, not because we know better, but because we are passionate about the work that you want to do and we are well-connected. We want to inspire not just our home-grown GP’s but also GP’s from fragile primary care systems and we will continue doing that through our exchange programmes and conference exchanges. You’ll also catch us at a few talks here and there so keep an eye out!
I have exactly two years three months to get some way to manage this. I’d be grateful for your opinions and thoughts as comments below or otherwise email me directly on chairjic@rcgp.org.uk!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s