© 2016 The author(s). Published by informa uK Limited, trading as Taylor & francis Group. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. CONTACT Luke Kane Lukejpkane@gmail.com Why this matters to me As a GP trainee, I am trying to understand and learn about the health systems in which I am building my career. Constant change and political turbulence can make understanding the NHS a challenge but I feel it is important to persevere and work to gain a good conceptual framework of the health system in which you function. Whilst working in an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone, an unexpected aspect of my role was helping to develop the process of how cases of possible Ebola virus infection were identified, isolated and treated. This was a crash course in understanding how a health system functions. Attending the WONCA Europe Conference in 2015 enabled me to further my understanding about how health systems work and gave context to how such systems change when new pressures are put upon them, for example, the primary care health system in Turkey dealing with Syrian refugees. This matters to me, and should matter to all of us, because GPs are well placed to contribute both clinically and by developing and strengthening health systems in times of crisis.