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The year that was in it

10 May 2017

ICGP Director of the Postgraduate Resource Centre Dr Brendan O’Shea reflects on the past year

It’s a pretty good time of the year. Summer holidays are just around the corner, the intense demand of the winter is slackening, and on the academic front, for most of us, last year’s CME portfolio is filed. Despite the work associated with it, many of us feel satisfied when we look back at the list of topics covered, and particularly where we can understand that our practice has changed as a result of our learning and audits during the year.

Back in the practice, there remain many of the usual challenges that we have become painfully familiar with during the past exceptionally difficult decade, including chronic uncertainty regarding locums, and manpower issues in general. From a clinical perspective, the level of service available through the public hospital system remains a concern.

The year that was in it
It has been a busy year in Lincoln Place and throughout the ICGP networks and faculties. The year saw several people leave the College, most notably Dr Margaret O’Riordan, Kieran Ryan and Jantze Cotter. They have all made a lasting and substantial contribution to the life of the ICGP, and to the discipline of general practice.

During the year, posts have been reviewed, and successors identified who will themselves work to make their own contribution in the years ahead. Chief among those who have commenced during the past year include Dr Karena Hanley as National Director of GP Training, Fintan Foy as CEO, and Ivana Pericin and James Larkin as Research Officers, joining Dr Clare Collins’s Research Team.

Following decisions taken in 2016, the ICGP has formally engaged once more with the HSE in the area of chronic disease management, having formally pulled out of the Clinical Programmes in 2013. This re-engagement is particularly in working the Integrated Clinical Care Committee, where an agreed focus is under way in cardiovascular disease, asthma, COPD and diabetes.

It has been agreed in principle to work towards the recruitment of four GP Leads with a view to devising integrated care. One of several reasons why the ICGP pulled out in 2013 was a realisation that working on 18 or 20 separate single disease protocols was impractical. Taking just four, and working towards an integrated process from the outset, holds out a better prospect of addressing the needs of individuals with multimorbidity.

New politics
2016 saw the College engage with new politics, where two Oireachtas Committees are specifically tasked with informing the political process.

The ICGP also delivered a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on the Eighth Amendment, also a new part of the political process.

In delivering these submissions, a range of experience and expertise was available and drawn upon from within the ICGP. Further direction was available through work done in 2015 in devising ICGP policy, evident in ‘Beyond 2020 — A Statement of Strategy’.

Detailed ICGP submissions, and the position of the College on a wide range of topics, have been projected with focus and energy, and in a transparent manner. As we convene at our AGM, the Future of Healthcare Oireachtas Committee, chaired by Róisín Shortall, is preparing to communicate its key recommendations, and separately, the process of negotiating a new contract for general practice is commencing in earnest.

ICGP AGM 2017
Against this backdrop, it has been decided that a positive and forward-looking theme was appropriate for the Annual Conference. If we can see beyond some of the seemingly intractable difficulties caused by under-resourcing and manpower shortages, there are exciting developments happening in many areas of care.

In the National Tutor Network, CME tutors will be meeting under the direction of Dr Annraoi Finnegan and Dr Claire McNicholas to consider how best to meet the CME needs of GPs for the next academic year. In 2016, an ICGP special interest group under the direction of Dr Brian Meade was convened, and will be reflecting on progress to date, as well as delivering a series of workshops directed towards improving long-term residential care.

In keeping with College strategy, which places emphasis on building stronger practice teams, we are pleased to invite practice nurses from the region to relevant parts of our programme.

Keynote plenary sessions include a reflection by Prof Tom O’Dowd on the past and possible futures for Irish general practice, informed by 30 years of serial data from successive GP structure and manpower surveys.

Dr Roar Maagaard presents the College Foundation Lecture, bringing with him practical experiences of transformation and reform in Danish general practice, which bears many similarities to our own (see below).

We welcome Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Officer at the HSE. Corbridge is tasked with the challenge of bringing information technology into the secondary care system, and his involvement in our conference is important in terms of our understanding of the commitment and efficacy of GPs in our use of information technology.

Corbridge is the keynote speaker at the College Forum, where he will be joined by College panellists and conference delegates to respond and reflect on developing a practical approach to extending the use of information technology beyond general practice and into secondary care. Respondents to Corbridge’s presentation will include Dr Conor O’ Shea at GPIT, Dr Rita Doyle, a College past President and currently on the Medical Council, and Dr Mike O’Callaghan, who has completed both GP training and an MSc in Computer Science.

Beyond AGM 2017
All the signs are that 2017 will only get busier, with increasing engagement on a wide range of activities. These include the well established processes for the delivery of the MICGP Examination including the logistically challenging Clinical Competence Test (CCT) for increasing numbers of trainees, by Dr Molly Owens (Chair of Examination Committee), the Examination Committee and the panel of MICGP examiners managed and coordinated by Muriosa O’ Reilly.

The College maintains a widening range of learning through e-Learning, and taught courses, including women’s health under the direction of Dr Miriam Daly, mental health under Dr Brian Osborne, health in practice under Dr Andrée Rochfort, and substance misuse under Dr Íde Delargy and Dr Des Crowley.

The ICGP also operates the Professional Competence Scheme (PCS) for GPs under arrangement with the Medical Council. The majority of GPs choose to fulfil their PCS requirements with the College and achieve this with the direction and support of Aoife McBride and colleagues in the PCS department.

In research, Dr Collins and her team continue with an expanding range of research projects, in addition to which they will be hosting the EGPRN (European General Practice Research Network) in Dublin in September, and collaborating with AUDGPI in the 3rd Annual Conjoined Research Meeting in Galway in 2018.

Increased interaction with College faculties during 2016, led by Dr Mary Davin-Power as Faculty Liaison Officer, will be complemented during 2017 with a focus on international activities, and will also include reaching out in a cohesive and sustained way to the many Irish graduates and College members who have left Ireland, and who now work in health systems abroad.

In its totality, the College draws together the work and activities of a very wide range of people who are passionate and driven towards delivering a better professional experience for GPs, general practice teams and ultimately our patients.

Our College is a vibrant organisation and I am confident you will get a palpable sense of this at the Conference, and during the remainder of 2017.

From a personal perspective, I would like to thank ICGP Education, particularly Nick Fenlon, and his team including Orla Sherlock, Yvette Dalton and Jana Pickard, who have put together an excellent programme, in collaboration with the Wexford Faculty of the ICGP. In truth, given the range of College activities, it is challenging to keep a handle on all of them, but I am certain there will be a strong sense of them at the 2017 Annual Conference.

The post The year that was in it appeared first on Irish Medical Times.

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