I was appointed to Council as the Fellows’ representative for the South East of England in July 2013, surprisingly unopposed. In order to make representation more democratic, we must encourage more members to apply for these posts – do try.
I approached the first meeting with caution. Would I know enough about what was being discussed, how would I convey my ‘constituents’ views’, would I dare to speak? However, I had nothing to be concerned about – the President met the new members before the Council meeting and explained how the meetings worked. I realised that I already knew some of the members, and the others were very friendly, and I found there were topics that I was confident to speak to.
Being a member of Council has been a very interesting time, so much so that I intend to stand for a second term. You are at the centre of College work and decision making and you can make a difference by getting involved and contributing to specific committees or working parties.
Representing constituents is not an easy process as you get very little comment from your constituents. I hope that the changes, which are being put in place following the Representation Working Party’s report (of which I was a member), will improve communication. The South East region is going to be divided into two which should bring the representatives a little closer to their constituents, along deanery lines.
There is work attached to being on Council – you may be asked to be the Council representative on specific committees or join a working party where you are expected to join in the debate and write a section. However, your views will count in shaping new policy directions.
From a family point of view, the meetings do not now involve many Saturdays. You will need to ask your clinical director for the time off (professional leave) to attend most of the meetings. Costs of travel and accommodation are met by the College but you will need to pay for the College dinners which are most enjoyable occasions to attend – good food, wine and company.
As well as the policy aspects, one duty that I have really enjoyed is being on the platform for admissions ceremonies and being able to welcome trainees as they pass Membership – and colleagues as they become Fellows.