Saturday 22 June 2019

Notes from RCGP Council meeting 22 June 2019

Here are the speeches I planned to deliver during this Council meeting. What I actually said may have been different due to the dynamic nature of debate, but the sense will have been the same.

Transgender patients

This is a really helpful and timely piece of work. Just as I received this paper, a patient of mine asked if I would be prepared to enter into a shared care agreement with a doctor whom I happened to know had just been suspended by the GMC and was currently practising from another country. The paper acknowledges that shared care agreements should be entered into only if “the appropriate levels of resource, competence and expertise are established”. It would be helpful to members if more detail could be given as to how they might recognise such competence and expertise, such as membership of which professional bodies would be sufficient.

I know a great many colleagues will be heartened to see us challenge the suggestion from the GMC that GPs should initiate bridging prescriptions, undertaking additional training if necessary. It is quite right to say that the GMC advice needs review and clarification. I would suggest that we should also call for a review of the processes that led to such unilateral advice.

When I consulted on this topic, a member with a particular interest in this area suggested that we should refer to the wider term “gender incongruous patients”.


This is an area that is captivating the imagination of many of our members, not least now that participation in PCNs is so strongly incentivised.

This provides a real opportunity for College to offer leadership and support by encouraging the sharing of best practice. In particular, I wonder if the Collaborative General Practice might approach local faculties for support, which might for example include educational events or even formal liaison, such as we had with STPs.

Digital services (para 3.1 of the paper) are increasingly widespread but not a “central” part of general practice. They are not appropriate to every practice and community, nor are they necessarily the most important facet of general practice. I worry that “central” implies essential.

Council agreed in 2015 that all new policies should be weighed against the five tests of overdiagnosis:
  1. Shared decision making and patient involvement
  2. Which populations it applies to
  3. Evidence base and opportunity costings
  4. Screening
  5. Declarations of interest
Can I suggest that these tests are made explicit in this paper, for the benefit of the Innovation Programme?

As ever with new technology, we need to beware of the inverse care law and be clear which population(s) stand to benefit most from any intervention and which are at risk of opportunity cost.

SLWG on declarations of interest

When I asked Twitter, 73 out of 76 respondents said that our declarations of interest should be publicly available; when I asked a large Facebook group of GPs, every one of 62 respondents said they should be public.

Thank you to the group whom I know have worked hard to make this proposed policy as strong as it is. I’m really pleased to see progress in this area and the proposal that we will be maintaining a register of interests. I must confess, however, that I was disappointed when I first saw this proposal that the register of interests would not be publicly available. By and large, I see that a great burden has been placed on the Hon. Sec. - just as well there are currently two of them! - or the relevant director to check the declarations of interest.

I understand that there are logistical and data protection challenges, but can we please state clearly our preference that all declarations of interest should be publicly available - whether on or elsewhere, and that the review in three years’ time specifically consider how to ensure that this happens?

Assisted dying – process for consultation review 

Partly in response to concerns raised to me by members, I spoke to this confidential item.