A report by Malcolm Ward
I regret to report that I failed to gain enough votes to be elected to UK Council. Riding on the rural ticket I only managed to attract 215 first preference votes. I wish to thank all those of you who took the trouble to vote for me and to the DDA and Rural Blog for promoting me on their respective web sites.
It was a low turn out with only 21.9% of the 25,989 eligible voters casting votes. There were 20 candidates competing for 6 places and the highest first vote went to Una Coales at 898 and the lowest achieved 56 votes. Current College Secretary Maureen Baker achieved 540 votes.
The low pole suggests general apathy towards the College however I had hoped that there would be greater interest amongst rural doctors to seize an opportunity to increase the rural voice in the UK Council. Perhaps we needed a better candidate than myself and it is interesting that of the 6 successful candidates 5 were women.
We do not have accurate statistics available to the Rural Group but there are probably around 5,000 rural GPs in the UK. A survey undertaken by the College Rural Group last year which attracted 144 respondents indicated that over 60% were College members so there were perhaps around 3,000 eligible College voters that might be considered to be rural. We need to aim for around 30% of these doctors to engage and vote next year if we are to have a realistic chance of getting a representative on Council.
What we currently lack is an effective communication channel that can be sure of reaching the majority of rural GPs. Developing the new Rural Forum is the way forward to achieving this so that we can have a membership database which will include email addresses. The College has agreed for us to use the College database to send an email seeking members to join the new Rural Forum SO PLEASE RESPOND AND SIGN UP as soon as you receive it.
The recently launched Rural Blog managed by Forum member David Hogg has the potential for being a highly effective communication vehicle and is rapidly gaining an audience.
It has been a useful learning exercise and clearly I or whoever we choose to represent us will have to try harder if we are to be successful next year.
Chair, RCGP Rural Forum