Feature Interview

Clare Gerada: “It’s like the wild west in healthcare”

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5911 (Published 02 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5911
  1. Gareth Iacobucci, news reporter
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. giacobucci{at}bmj.com

As the national figurehead for UK general practitioners during a huge period of upheaval, Clare Gerada has barely been out of the news in recent years. Here, as she prepares to move on to new challenges, she gives a typically honest exit interview to Gareth Iacobucci

MARK THOMAS

“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.

Listen to more of Gareth Iacobucci's interview with Clare Gerada

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branch of NHS England, Gerada has a new battle in her sights, to convince GPs that the independent contractor status is outdated and needs remoulding.

Quick start

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 …

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