Dr Martin Iu
Martin has been a GP principal in south London for 20 years. Prior to the development programme he hadn't been involved in any wider primary care activity outside of his practice but he is now a GP federation director.
It's time to do my bit
"I'm one of those people who doesn't like to put themselves out there. I don't usually get involved, I hate going to meetings, I clam up when I have to speak in front of people. A crowd of more than six is like Glastonbury to me!
But the CCG had started working towards population based contracts and it was becoming obvious that the climate was changing. Practices started thinking 'if we don't get in and do something we're going to lose the ability to lead services'. Our practice manager was involved in meetings about contracts but she was just a couple of months from retirement and someone needed to take her place. So after 20 years I thought it's time to do my bit. I got stuck in. Then the leadership programme came up and I thought it was a really good opportunity to learn how to do this properly.
The programme has been a godsend. It paid for my time to be away from my practice which made it easier for my partners to agree to me doing it. They were fully supportive even though I felt guilty about being away from practice and my duties.
You're not on your own
I still wasn't comfortable with large numbers of people but it was great meeting colleagues from both Lambeth and Southwark. People on the programme were mostly of the same mind and it started clicking with me that 'you're not on your own, you can do this'. I began to understand networking.
We were told the programme would give us a bit of time, some head space. I was quite cynical about this, but they were right. I've got a lot from being on the programme. It's given me the confidence to speak in front of people. Before I just kept things to myself, now I'm more decisive about stating my views. I learnt the most from the external speakers. I needed to hear what other people were doing and then think about how we implement that for ourselves. Constantly learning from others was also great. North and South Southwark federations are so different from each other, and Lambeth is totally alien! You take the best out of each other and put it to use. The good thing was that it was all about sharing. People were very generous with their ideas and thoughts which I really appreciated – random acts of kindness make me smile.
We can really represent each other
There's real clout in being able to say that Lambeth and Southwark practices are working together on certain things. At large meetings we can really represent each other, we have a mandate to speak for each other. This is important for service negotiation. Although our federation was already set up before the programme started it helped to move us further. Being on the programme has opened all our eyes to what's going on outside of our own localities.
At the end of the day it's about the patients, forget the CCG and the federation. It's the patients that are the focus of what we're doing.
I'd like to think that we've started to make a bit of a difference. More people are thinking about life outside of their own surgeries, most people are now seeing that contracts are going to be population based. I think it's finally hit home.
We're performance supporting, not performance managing
Patients will get a better deal if we all work in the same way – and by that I mean getting everyone up and running to a high standard. We don't want to lose the opportunity for funding to provide services because some practices are not operating at the right level. I would love every practice to be offering patients the same quality gold standard service and that is truly the aim. And why shouldn't patients get that? I think the direction we're heading in is right – equality for patients, that's the way to go and if we can work on that over the next couple of years that would be good.
We're not here to performance manage but the federation can help to nudge practices to raise their standards. We can help those that are struggling, we can give to support. We are performance supporting, not performance managing."
Martin Iu is a GP Partner at Nunhead Surgery and a director of Improving Health Ltd, the South Southwark GP federation