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President's Update

May 2022

It is a great honour to serve as your President. I follow in the footsteps of great leaders. I ask myself how I got here, the fat lad from Lancaster!

Firstly, I cannot praise Neil enough for his term as President through incredibly difficult times. It was not the fun gig he anticipated but he leaves his term with the IDF in a much stronger and healthier position in spite of a pandemic.

Thank you also to Dr Sean Preston for his five years as Chair of the Specialist Committee and to Dr Arvinder (Ossy) Kurbaan for his service as Treasurer through challenging times over the past three years.

I have spoken to many people over the past year seeking their counsel and opinions about the IDF. These include long standing members, current and past employees, and present and former members of the executive committee. It is clear to me that this is a much-loved organisation, even by those that feel somewhat disenfranchised. I am grateful to all the staff for the work they do. I am especially grateful to the non-executive members of the board and my fellow directors. None are paid and our motive is simply to serve the organisation and our members.

I have been reminded that the IDF was founded, before appraisal and revalidation, to support doctors in private practice and to help each other grow. This is articulated in the objects of the Articles of the Association. Essentially the IDF was set up to network, learn and have fun! We must never lose sight of those founding principles. 

We serve as a designated body for over 600 members with our appraisal and revalidation team. This is a vital service for those members from a wide range of practice. I am grateful to Alex Harkins, our Responsible Officer, and her team. We are fortunate to have Alex and she sits at the top table of ROs in the country on committees, including the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges. Inevitably, and rather sadly, rarely Alex must fulfil our obligations when members meet a threshold to be referred to the GMC. This is always in the strictest of confidence and difficult for Alex and the member concerned. We will always fulfil our obligations but try to do this with as much kindness as possible, signposting members in difficulty to support.

The truth hurts at times, but we should not hide from the truth. We only grow by asking difficult questions. 

Personally, I always try to do the right thing. I don’t always get it right though. When I get it wrong, I reflect, learn, and apologise. Doing the right thing is not always the popular thing though. I believe in the hope for fairness and equality. The reality, though, is life is not fair. We live in challenging times wrestling with social concerns, commonly termed ‘woke culture’. I have not had to overcome prejudice based on the colour of my skin, gender, sexual orientation, faith or disability. I don’t know how that feels.

 

None of us should feel dehumanised or ashamed of who we are. I pay tribute to those of you that have overcome and continue to fight prejudice. I could not provide care to my patients without you. I enjoy learning from you. My life is richer because of you. I am proud to be your colleague and to serve as your President. I will continue to listen to your issues and hope that by the end of my term you can say I was inclusive and that I spoke for you. Indeed, I hope to hand this presidential medal to one of you in three years’ time.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘woke’ as: ‘being alert to injustice in society, especially racism”. I embrace a lot of ‘woke culture’ not because of ‘virtue signalling’ but because it is the right thing to do. Let me make myself very clear though. Whilst I accept that we all need to be held accountable, I deplore the cruelty and viciousness of ‘cancel culture’ and struggle with humourless militants.

The IDF is an inclusive organisation, but I believe we can do better. We are sometimes prone to mistakes leading some members to feel they do not ‘belong’ in the IDF family or at some events. This was highlighted following the killings of George Floyd and Dalian Atkinson by the police in the USA and UK. In order to reduce these mistakes, I will continue my goal to have representation from a dedicated diversity committee on our executive. This is not for some political correctness gesture, but to consider members with particular needs. This is entirely consistent with the objects of our Articles of Association. 

The independent sector is changing with PMI’s directing patient pathways, CMA directives and a newer employed model from providers. We need to continue constructive engagement and challenge many stakeholders. It is vital we engage with new and younger GPs and consultants working in the independent sector for long term sustainability and growth of the IDF.

These changes are necessary to achieve my first priority as President. After the last couple of years, it is more important than ever to follow the timeless founding principles of the IDF. These are to support each other, have fun and grow together. To that end we will expand our Events team and I look forward to any imaginative ideas for events where we can enjoy each other’s company and support one another.

At the risk of repeating myself I wish to emphasise I aim to do the right thing. The right thing is not always popular. At times we may have to agree to disagree respectfully, hopefully in an agreeable manner. I don’t always get it right and will make mistakes. When this happens, I will apologise and hope that you will have the grace to forgive me so we can move on together. I will do my best and as a Lancastrian I will definitely bring some ‘ecky thump’ into the role.

Dr Phil Batty
IDF President