The professional body that represents over 46,000 family doctors has appointed its new honorary secretary of council.

Nigel Mathers will take over the position from the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) present honorary secretary, Professor Amanda Howe.

She will stand down next month to take on the post of vice chair of the organisation for primary care physicians.

Professor Mathers has a detailed knowledge and vast experience of the college through his present role as RCGP vice chair and through various other roles over the past decade.

He will serve a four-year tenure from next month until November 2017.

Professor Mathers beat three other college members who contested the position: Dennis Cox, Mary Lowth and Helena McKeown.

Professor Mathers will head the development of college governance and attempt to coax more involvement from devolved councils and faculties.

He will also work closely with the college’s new company secretary Robert Foster and will chair a new governance and nominations committee.

RCGP chief executive and returning officer Neil Hunt called the role a key one for the college.

Mr Hunt said he is looking forward to working with Professor Mathers to continue the “excellent work” already undertaken by Professor Howe to ensure college processes are as effective as possible.

Mr Hunt added: “We had four very strong candidates who contested the role, demonstrating its importance to the college.”