President’s Blog December 2013

And so we find ourselves at the close of 2013. By now the Christmas season will be in full swing and no doubt many of you will be looking forward to spending an evening in the good company of colleagues whilst savouring the variable ‘feasts’ of a local carvery.

At the time of writing this, the Twickenham conference is only just behind us. This was a real triumph for the organisers and the feedback has been extremely positive. The sessions on sustainable career planning were particularly well received. Work from this conference stream is on the College website and out for consultation. This is an ideal opportunity to inform the College of key challenges and your own ideas and solutions.

I have recently attended the Military Tri-service EM conference and the East of England Annual Faculty day. Both were an excellent opportunity for me to explain what the College is doing and listen to the opinions of EM consultants and trainees alike. This is really important to me as it emboldens me when I am in discussion and debate with politicians, national bodies and journalists. My twitter account (@CEMpresident) is an excellent way for anyone to appraise me of their views.

I have had meetings recently with Professor Wendy Reid of HEE, the ECIST team and the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and other meetings in the near future with ministerial advisors and the BMA. I have been struck by the extent to which these people and organisations have grasped both the nature of our key problems and responded positively to our proposals. Clearly such discussions and agreements need to be converted into actions and resourced solutions but we are gaining momentum and there are credible reasons for optimism.

The Keogh review was due to have released its first report this week but it has been delayed. The College was particularly concerned by a proposal to redefine the nomenclature applied to Emergency Departments and other OOH service locations. In essence the word ‘Emergency’ was to be appended almost ubiquitously to almost all sites providing OOH care without regard to either the skill-mix of the workforce or the on-site resources. We have written and expressed our unequivocal opposition to this proposal which appears to prefer style of nomenclature over substance of service provision and will only increase public confusion and increase the risks to patient safety.

Many of you will be familiar with the eLearning platform of the College – EnLightenme. This is available to all Members and Fellows. Council voted recently to make most of the non-interactive components ‘open-access’ – this recognises the value of this content to a wider audience and is concordant with our charitable status. Elements and functions that are not eLearning will soon be unavailable via the EnLightenme platform. It is intended that such components will be available in due course via the College website and we are keen to hear from people interested in developing such tools. Similarly we are keen to know whether there is a significant demand/ need for such tools. Chris Walsh, who is our eLearning editor has recently developed and published a survey of invited feedback and comments to inform future developments.

Back to the reality of EM in the UK and Republic of Ireland in the middle of the winter of 2013-14. I am sure many of you are fatigued and weary of the daily challenges of providing even a minimally safe service. It can be difficult not to feel victimised when faced with a numerically depleted workforce but I believe this will be the last winter we tackle on these terms. We have recently started planning our 2014 strategy with the assistance of experts from a NATO team, using their methodology and College Officers and Fellows as ‘Subject Matter Experts’. The outputs from this will guide our activities in 2014 with the aim of securing manifesto commitments from the political parties for whom next year will be focused on the 2015 General Election. EM patients deserve a properly resourced service: they are often worried, frightened and vulnerable; whilst others have found there is no one else to turn to. All these people – almost 15 million of them – form one of the largest potential voting blocks. The College will spare no effort to remind our elected representatives that emergency care is the barometer of our health services and they ignore it at their peril.

It has been a huge privilege to lead the College over the last 6 months and I am looking forward to 2014 confident that we are winning the arguments and securing a viable future for EM in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It is a very great pleasure to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a sustainable New Year.

Dr Cliff Mann FCEM FRCP
The College of Emergency Medicine