This is really hard to write. But sadly, I have had to come to the incredibly difficult decision of stepping down as Chair of DAUK.
Two years ago I was a registrar, at home with a newborn, watching on with increasing horror as one of our colleagues, a paediatric ST5 just back from maternity leave, was dragged through the courts by the GMC for making an honest mistake whilst trying to do the work of 4 doctors at once.
Maybe it was too close to home for me, trying to juggle being A&E trainee and a new mother, having been on the brink of several errors whilst run ragged in winter crisis after never-ending winter crisis.
I never expected when I penned that very first letter to Charlie Massey the Chief Exec of the GMC fuelled no doubt by sleep deprivation and on a swell of collective injustice, that it would be signed by 6000 doctors in 48 hours. And several MPs. And that soon after I would be founding the new social movement that would become The Doctors’ Association UK.
I certainly never expected that months later we would be meeting the Health Secretary. That our team would be invited to speak in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. That we would have a seat at the table with the GMC, with the Department of Health, with NHS England. Or that we would be able to influence the media narrative on an almost daily basis.
But when I look back over my time in DAUK, the stuff that fills me with joy is not all that. It’s thinking about the doctor who we were able to get home when, after months of lobbying, DAUK was able to change Home Office policy. The doctor we were able to back blowing the whistle at their Trust and stay in training. The doctor who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter, who through supporting her appeal we’ve been able to see return to the job she loves.
And that is why, really, we’ve all given our all to this for so long. DAUK is like a second full time job, it really is, but we all give our time freely, in the hope that next week, we can help another doctor.
And because of that…and it really does pain me to say this after living and breathing this for nearly 2 years…that it is time to hand over the reins. Having taken up a new HEMs post as well as being a (undoubtedly bad) mother, spending my days (and nights) either jumping out of a helicopter or dealing with snotty noses, it’s become increasingly clear that I cannot devote as much time to our ever growing organisation as our members deserve.
So, as of, well, now, I will handing over to the utterly brilliant Dr Rinesh Parmar. Rinesh has been my right hand man for some months now as our Vice-Chair. I cannot tell you how hard this guy works for doctors behind the scenes, often for no credit whatsoever (I mean, there’s been lots of calls in the middle of the night to help a doctor in trouble) and there is literally no-one better to lead this movement from the front.
I will continue working in a horonary role and as co-Director of DAUK. But Rinesh will be heading the team of incredible doctors that make up the DAUK team as Chair. These guys are amongst the fiercest and most selfless advocates of doctors and the NHS I have ever met, and whilst I step down they continue to work for you, every day, of every year for free. I am proud to call them not only colleagues, but now amongst my closest friends.
TLDR. Thanks for sticking with me. The road hasn’t always been easy. There’s been lots of bumps along the way. But I am constantly amazed at how doctors come together to support one their own, including an ordinary doctor like me who just decides one day things need to change.
Thanks for everything, I couldn’t have done it without you.