President’s Blog December 2014

My second Christmas as President of the College – what will Santa bring? My list of CEM10 goodies will continue to dominate my expectations though, in a manner similar to my children with their Advent Calendars, the rate of progress can be frustrating.

Top of the list of frustrations are the current proposals for reform of the acute care tariffs in England. Still no plans to change the iniquitous ‘buy one get two free’ effect of the marginal tariff; so the system designed by neither doctors nor patients will continue to penalise both. Only just behind is the frustration of the stalled contract negotiations in England and Northern Ireland. This is an opportunity hopefully postponed rather than lost, to tackle retention in EM. Certainly I will be making this point strongly to the chief exec of NHS England, the NHS Employers and the BMA. Equitable terms and conditions are a pre-requisite to preventing the ‘trained brain drain’ of the last five years. We have had support from many quarters including other medical colleges and specialties, and I regard this as an opportunity to make our case even more clearly.

We have also been building policy alliances with Public Health England, with shared messages around alcohol misuse, accident prevention and most recently guidance on the management of patients with fever returning from West Africa. Our accident prevention policies have led to useful collaboration with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and I was pleased to be invited to give the society’s annual Alan St. John Holt lecture, this year entitled ‘Can Accident Prevention save the NHS’! With over 7 million accidents requiring medical attention every year there is certainly significant potential. We now kill fewer people on the roads than ever before and the UK has the lowest incidence of fatal accidents at work in the world. In consequence the most dangerous place is the home, especially for young children and the elderly, and 75% of employee injuries now occur at home.

We recently held our EM Leaders Conference at the British Library and were fortunate to have both our Royal Patron, HRH the Princess Royal and the Secretary of State, the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt speak to representatives of EM from across the UK and Ireland. At this conference we re-launched four components of the CEM 10, re-branded as our STEP campaign: Sustainable staffing, Tariff and Funding reform, Exit Block and Primary Care co-location. Hopefully, if not already you will soon see the publications that have arisen from this conference and the campaign. We will use these 4 key steps as the foundation for all our policy work in 2015.

Turning now to more educational matters, it has been great to see the success of our FOAMed site. This free, open access, medical education site enables the College to promote instantly available eLearning materials to anyone interested. A particular gem, that I would commend to anyone and everyone, is the ‘Conference Highlights’ produced by Linda Dykes @mmbangor. This is something of a magnum opus, and is a synopsis of most of the presentations given at our Exeter Conference in September. I am really grateful to Linda and her team for creating such a useful publication and just about the easiest CPD one could hope for!

Finally those of you who have read my previous newsletters will be aware of my long running campaign to correct the many misconceptions that bedevil the world of EM in the UK and Ireland. Chris Moulton our vice-president has proposed that we make our Spring Policy meeting a ‘Myth Buster’ event. We plan to invite CEOs, CCG leads and senior managers from as many regions as possible to hear us debunk many of these myths and ‘illuminate the darkness of endemic ignorance’. The event promises to bring some humour to the debates, highlighting many of the absurdities that converge upon our departments. Most importantly it seeks to act as a catalyst to form and develop better local understanding of the issues that we have been campaigning about at a national level for the past year.

I will shortly be writing the College Christmas cards, which we like other organisations send to the various people outside our specialty who have been helpful to our cause. The College now has over 4,500 members and so I trust you will forgive me not sending a card to each of you. Instead I will take this opportunity to wish you all some happy times with your friends and families this Christmas and assure you that the College, its Officers and staff will ensure we take every opportunity to advance EM and support our EDs in 2015.

Dr Cliff Mann FCEM FRCP
The College of Emergency Medicine