- Gareth Iacobucci, news reporter
- 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
“It’s been like an episode of the West Wing, every single day,” Clare Gerada tells me when we meet on the eve of her final Royal College of General Practitioners annual conference as chair. Her comparison with the American TV drama may be tongue in cheek, but it does offer a revealing insight into how the previously placid role as head of the largest medical royal college in the UK has been recast by Gerada’s firebrand politicising. Much of this, she argues, was driven by circumstance, as she led the protracted and bitter fight against the government’s unpopular healthcare reforms in England.
But she has also faced other battles since taking over the reins in November 2010, including accusations of racial bias in the college’s examination processes and building a case to put to ministers to extend the length of GP training. 1 As she prepares to take on a new role with the London branch of NHS England, Gerada has a new battle in her sights, to convince GPs that the independent contractor status is outdated and needs remoulding.
Gerada admits that the fact her tenure coincided with a period of huge upheaval in the NHS made the job tougher than she ever imagined.
“I’d had a lifetime of holding quite senior roles at a national and international level that were political with a small p,” she explains.
“[But] nothing prepared me for the first five days of my chairmanship. I was …