End of Year Message from President and Chairman

21 December 2018

End of Year Message from President and Chairman

As we fast approach the end of 2018 this message to members brings closure to what has been yet another challenging year for General Practice, our members and indeed the College.

As ICGP President and Board Chair, we are continually mindful of the challenge of extolling the many virtues of general practice, promoting and advocating for general practice, general practitioners and their staff and our patients, while acknowledging the serious problems faced by members. We are also very conscious of the responsibility that we shoulder on your behalf, particularly at a time when General Practice is in crisis. At every opportunity that presents, in every publication and communication issued, the College continually lobbies and advocates on the three key issues of capacity, resources and workload in General Practice.

Over the last year, the College has welcomed the appointment of the new Medical Director, Dr Tony Cox, (former President), and a well-respected colleague. Other key appointments included Director of Women's Health, Dr Mary Short, Quality and Policy Development Manager, Dr Helen McVeigh.

We have also appointed new Clinical Leads (ICGP HSE Primary Care Lead for Integrated Care Programmes): Dr Joe Gallagher, Cardiovascular Disease, Dr Diarmuid Quinlan, Diabetes, Dr Mark O'Kelly, COPD and Dr Dermot Nolan, Asthma. The four have joined Dr Nuala O'Connor the existing Clinical Lead, for Health Care Acquired Infection/Antimicrobial Resistance. The role of the Clinical Leads is to support general practice and to strongly advocate for resources to improve patient care in the community

The clinical supports and expertise in the College under the guidance of Dr Cox as Medical Director will ensure greater support and closer links with our members. You can also be assured on all clinical matters, the voice, and concerns of general practice will be at the forefront of their work and interaction with all stakeholders.

The very successful College Annual Conference in May and the Winter Meeting in November demonstrated the continued vibrancy of members' interest in on going professional development and collegiate participation.

In 2019, you will see increased communications and greater engagement through all communications channels and in addition, members will receive a monthly update on key College activities and work. It is clear from our autumn regional meetings and indeed the recent EGM that an increased level of communications is indicated. In the last week, we have launched our new Online News Webpage, which will provide up to date information for all members on key college activities. The new website can be viewed here.

In addition, the Faculties remain the bedrock for College engagement and we would encourage you all to ensure your Faculty is active and brings forward your concerns to Council. There are many communication tools open to us and we will work to improve on those to ensure real time feedback on issues. However, these cannot replace considered members discussion and feedback at faculty level. Communications can often be complex and cannot be a top down process. The College executive (see list here) are in daily contact with individual members on a wide spectrum of member groups and are available to discuss and advise on important or immediate issues. In addition, College Officers are open to attending and contributing to your faculty meetings. 

The EGM on 2 December was a significant date for the College. For the College to hold an EGM based on the petition we received, would have been in contravention of company law and would have constituted failure by the Board in its governance responsibility to all members. The Board decision to hold an EGM for information sharing was taken in the best interests of the future of your College.

Some members have also been critical that the College did not survey members following the Referendum result. Since the Referendum, a central role of the College has been to develop clinical guidance to enable provision of a safe, patient-centred service, both for those members who choose to provide the service and those who choose not to. The Board consulted with members through an online process, a series of regional meetings and a dedicated Council workshop in order to collect the multifaceted information needed to allow the development of this complex clinical guidance. We have tried to represent all members and all views on the issue of Termination of Pregnancy. It has proven, and will continue to be, a very challenging and emotive subject.

Another area of College work that has created challenges has been the transfer of General Practice training from the HSE to the College. To achieve a greater level of buy-in, the College established a Task Force, which includes representatives from the Training Community, Programme Directors, College representative and medical education experts. The feedback to date has been extremely positive and we expect to receive a report from the group in early spring. In many ways, on major subject areas, this template of engagement and involvement will be a model to replicate for the future.

As we end the year, we are pleased to see many of the issues concerning the College's CME tutors now resolved. CME is such a key component of who and what we are and the relationship between the CME group and the College will be one of support and a closer bond. We look forward to the appointment of a new Director and the new post of Assistant Academic Director in January. We also wish to recognise the significant contribution of Dr Annraoi Finnegan who for the last 20 years has embodied everything that is good about CME.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to collaborating with all our members to serve the patient and the general practitioner in the year ahead.

Finally, we would like to wish you, your families and your practice staff a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy 2019.

Dr John O'Brien,

Dr John Gillman,
Chairman of the Board