President’s Blog January 2014

And so into 2014! I trust the New Year’s resolutions are intact and any excesses of the festive season have been offset by the increased metabolic rate associated with good intentions. At the time of writing of course we have only just taken down the Halloween decorations and returned the Presidential Residence to its native state. Chris Moulton, our new Vice-President, and I were walking near the College on the evening of October 31st and were amused at the range of costumes on show. It was not entirely clear whether some were in fancy dress or simply accustomed to wearing more avant-garde garments: the pirates were certainly incongruous.

Much has happened of late in the parish. I led a delegation to Downing Street and had a very constructive meeting with the PMs Senior Policy Advisor. We had useful talks with the BMA Consultants Committee Chair and I am delighted to report that they absolutely understand the need for a new contract to better reflect out of hours work, frequency and intensity. Indeed they are negotiating hard for a contract that will make all high acuity, high frequency OOH rotas sustainable and bear comparison to more elective work patterns.

Next week we are meeting the Secretary of State for Health (England) and thereafter Sir Bruce Keogh. Those of you without access to radio, TV or newspapers will have been spared my media appearances. However these have given the College the opportunity to press its key messages. These are encapsulated in the ’10 priorities’ document that we launched in November and have circulated to all CEOs. I am delighted that this format has been very successful in acting as a focus for subsequent discussions with all the key players and especially that it has been adapted by the National Boards to ensure it is just as relevant in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

My twitter account continues to act as a source of prompt and candid feedback and I am grateful to all my ‘followers’ (though the term has a disquieting messianic property). I was particularly grateful for the encouragement I received following my little chat with Jeremy Paxman.

I am shortly to attend EM meetings in the West Midlands, County Limerick and the FASSGEM conference in Cardiff and I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet college members and fellows. Understanding the key concerns of as wide a range of members as possible is essential in enabling me to be confident that I speak not with my own authority but that of almost 5000 people!

On a lighter note I am pleased to report that I continue to acquire new skills. Having attended the Harveian Oration of the RCP I not only understand what he term ‘decorations will be worn’ means, but I can also¬† recognise an OBE, CBE and KBE from a distance of 10 metres!

My recent annual appraisal back in Taunton seemed to go well and indeed was unusually boosted by a number of unsolicited letters of thanks from patients. As ever the 360 feedback comments were the most valuable part and it is clear that I have a tendency to sarcasm when under pressure. As maladaptive coping strategies go I think it better than many of the alternatives but I will leave it to readers to discern from my newsletter in 12 months time whether it is the ‘pressure’ that has changed or my responses.

We are now only a few weeks away from the College Spring CPD Conference in Cardiff (March 17th to 19th) and as ever we expect it to be over-subscribed. It has been a delight to see that the popularity of this event has been matched only by the quality of the presentations and enthusiasm of the participants. I will be returning to a favourite topic of Atrial Fibrillation as NICE are releasing a new guideline this year; I trust this will reassure those of you who were concerned that my presentation last year made no reference to ‘the connoisseur’s dysrhythmia’

My next newsletter will be written jointly with Dr Katie Archer, recently elected as EMTA president. This will bring some welcome perspectives from the trainees. I met a number of trainees recently in Bethnal Green where the viva components of the FCEM were hosted. I was impressed by the quality of the CTRs and many of the answers given in the management vivas. Our specialty has come a long way since I sat the FCEM and the experience reinforced to me the need to continue to inspire such excellent doctors to join us in a specialty that without doubt provides a career that is true to the highest ideals of medicine.

Dr Cliff Mann FCEM FRCP
The College of Emergency Medicine