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President's Update

April 2021


Dear IDF Member,

Our AGM this year was held virtually and can be viewed via our website. I would like to share with you my report as follows:

It has of course been an extraordinary year and first I would like to ask everyone to observe a moment’s silence to remember those IDF members who died from Covid, as well as the 130,000 or more people in this country who have lost their lives and those whose life will have been shortened by delayed diagnoses of cancer and heart disease.

We all know the dreadful effects Covid has had on the country, our children’s education, our businesses, the NHS, and in many cases our health. There are just too many issues to summarise in one talk and we are all well aware as we cannot escape the news every day. The IDF is a membership organisation for independent doctors, so I will concentrate on that aspect, as is appropriate for an AGM. 

The IDF had to adapt very quickly in the first lockdown. Our office has been closed ever since and all of our staff worked from home. Meetings have of course been via Zoom since then which has advantages requiring no travel, but chairing virtual meetings is not the same as I’m sure many of you will know. Our webinars have been a huge success and will continue for some meetings as they are just so convenient. I do miss the chit chat before and afterwards though as I’m sure you must as well. There’s so many of you I have not seen for over a year which is such a shame and not the presidency I had envisaged.

Every week seemed to throw us a new challenge. Hardly seeing patients in person, our hospitals being contracted to the NHS for months on end, PPE provision, which antibody tests we should provide, which PCR swab to offer, access to vaccination, and then having new UKAS regulation imposed on us with two weeks’ notice, amongst all the other issues the IDF deals with from day to day. Reassuringly for a membership organisation, the number of members has fallen very little and is in keeping with natural drift. We have also not been able to promote ourselves in the usual way which will have prevented any significant increase. The same can be said for our corporate members, which have understandably fallen a little, but not the impact we had anticipated, so thank you for your loyalty.

We have moved heaven and earth to maintain our service though. Appraisal and revalidation were on hold for a few months but are now well under way. We have regular contact with CQC as ever, and now UKAS, as well as our new friends at the Department of Health and Social Care, although they might be getting a bit tired of me by now. We also held numerous virtual social events and I apologise for my quiz questions and the lack of a sport section. We even managed a virtual musical evening when one performer wasn’t even in the country! 

Our committees have met regularly and I would like to personally thank them for their support and input over the past year. Di Loudon has stepped down after more than three years as Chair of our GP Committee and I welcome Dr Shaima Villait who has taken her place. 


We also have a number of new committee members; Drs Anjali Mahta and Paul Myers on the Education Committee and Drs Yogani Patel and Glyn Towlerton on our Specialist Committee. I am also delighted to announce that Dr Phil Batty has been appointed President Elect from this meeting so congratulations to him.. but you’ve still got me for another year I’m afraid. 

You should also have noticed our new look website, which has taken a huge amount of work, often invisible, but will help us maintain our presence and service for years to come, so thanks to all involved. We are also in the process of setting up an online benchmarking tool which should be available early next year; this has been a CQC bugbear for years and should prevent them from imposing on us their own version.

I have been keen to modernise and streamline our governance system, which has now been achieved, and we have managed to improve our financial security even during the most challenging year. The IDF must also reflect society as it changes and mirror what similar organisations have put in place, so in light of events last year and the Black Lives Matter movement we have appointed a diversity and inclusion consultant to help set up a BAME support group, the first of which was held on the 14th April and was well received. The consultant will also advise IDF on its processes and help us set up any other support groups for members with other protected characteristics. I would like to thank Dr Nelda Frater for highlighting the need for such a group.

I am so sorry we have had to cancel so many events including two study weekends, but we have plans for the summer, starting with an educational event at Magdalene College, Cambridge, on Saturday 7th August, followed by a dinner in the 500 year old dining room, so please look out for the invitation and save the date. There are also numerous other face to face events planned depending on Government guidelines. Hopefully you have also received your copy of our excellent journal brilliantly edited by Greg Williams; quite an achievement in lockdown year. Things are improving and we should embrace that and start enjoying ourselves again!

Finally, a huge thank you to our staff headed up by Rachel Whitelegg, our Managing Director, who have managed amazingly well over the past year, we really couldn’t do it without you all; and also thanks to Barbara and Sasha who left out team this year and we wish them well for the future.

Many thanks and hope to see many of you soon.

Dr Neil Haughton
IDF President