Making time for sidelines


In case you missed it, this week the Royal College of General Practitioners announced that it would like to support GPs to become successful entrepreneurs, turn their good ideas into hard cash and make a very real, very digital difference to the lives of patients. Now read on…

RCGP has launched an initiative to tackle the national shortage of high-tech entrepreneurs. According to official figures, the country needs at least 5000 more entrepreneurs as many near retirement, emigrate or give up and go back to steady jobs.

The RCGP’s solution is to persuade GPs to retrain as entrepreneurs – and help them to turn their dreams of high-tech start-ups into big business.

The RCGP said the move was a natural next step for the royal college. “The RCGP has a reputation for innovation. It’s probably what we’re best known for,” said a spokesperson. “We’re confident that we have the skills and experience to help GPs to get a high-tech start-up off the ground.”  

Many GPs work up to 80 hours a week. The RCGP argues that their workload would be cut dramatically if they “worked smarter” by acquiring the skills necessary to secure venture capital and identify manufacturing partners.

Other NHS organisations have been quick to demonstrate that they know how to please a new secretary of state and improve their chances of being restructured out of existence.

CQC inspections will in future include a new “digital awesomeness” rating designed to measure practices on entrepreneurial capability as well as their ability to monetise original innovations.

A further stimulus will come from commissioners who are expected to offer a digital innovation enhanced service payment to practices who can make a compelling case for funding by completing the appropriate form.

The RCGP initiative is likely to be endorsed in the forthcoming refresh of the GP Forward View, the Very Big and Even Better GP Plan. The Making Time for Sidelines initiative will set out a number of high-impact actions to free up GP time that might otherwise have been spent seeing patients.

Within hours of the announcement, the RCGP’s initiative drew a response from would-be entrepreneurs with innovations to share. Here are some of the ideas that grabbed the attention of the college’s Innovation Review and Extended Deliberation Committee.

  • The Halcyon Time Machine – for GPs who want to prefer general practice as it was in the 1950s. Each time travelling capsule includes a pair of half-moon spectacles, a pack of untipped cigarettes, a bottle of decent malt whisky and a bar of carbolic soap
  • The Flu Suit, all round protection for you and your team if you live in part of the country where vaccinations don’t reach. Also guaranteed to guard against infection when antibiotics stop working
  • The Receptionator – robot receptionist able to deal with many times more phone calls and difficult patients than the human equivalent. Low maintenance, sensibly priced alternative to the traditional automaton
  • The Innovation Cycle – compact, high-speed vehicle for getting from the surgery to meetings with investors and PR firms
  • The Conflict of Interest Neutraliser – includes a hologram of Matt Hancock in a Babylon T-shirt and an aerosol for covering bad smells
  • The Jetaway – jet pack for those who want to make a quick getaway. Available in short and long distance versions. Maximum range: New Zealand
  • The iCardigan – the first in a new generation of wearables – intelligent but comfy “audit cardigans” with an integral clip board holder. Available in a range of browns

The RCGP said: “Our new focus on high-tech innovation will stop people pigeon-holing us as a professional body for GPs. That can only be a good thing.”

Innovation editor: Julian Patterson


Pictures of these inventions can be seen at @jtweeterson’s Twitter feed. Search using the hashtag #RCGPinnovationhothouse

Reproduced at by kind permission of Julian Patterson.