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Meet our new VP Treasurer, and find out why he feels he has big shoes to fill  

 7 February 2024

The Somerset town of Taunton, once again, is providing the Royal College of Emergency Medicine with stellar and esteemed representatives.   

It is where RCEM’s new Vice President Treasurer Dr James Gagg is based, but it has also given rise to two previous Presidents of the College; the late Dr Clifford Mann and Mr Chris Cutting, the first consultant appointed in Taunton, who led RCEM when it was the British Association of Emergency Medicine from 1995 to 1998. 

Sharing the same heritage as such strong leaders of the College gives James enormous pride. Pride that will energise him in seizing the Vice President Treasurer opportunity and build upon the hard work of such respected figures, as he takes over the baton and the RCEM finance spreads from Dr Scott Hepburn who has served the College so well as Treasurer for the past two terms.

James said: “It is a real privilege, and I am sure Cliff would be smiling that Taunton is punching so highly.

“I have a great appreciation for Scott who will be guiding me into the position with his brilliant knowledge as I start the exciting next chapter of my RCEM journey.”  

Changing the role of Treasurer to Vice President Treasurer has given James an opportunity to put his own unique stamp on it. He brings a great wealth of RCEM experience after becoming a Fellow in 2011 and then joining the Research Committee in 2016 for five years before becoming Chair of the Southwest Regional Board in 2021. 

“I’ll look to take it forward in a slightly different way, in the sense that there is the core role of a Treasurer sitting on the board, having oversight of the finances and interpretation of the analysis of the finances, and presenting that to the membership. 

“But there’s also the Vice President aspect. I see that as bringing in a bit more shared responsibility with the other VPs and the President in terms of being part of the face of the College communications, not just related to the Treasury elements, but any other outward facing work that the College needs to do or have represented.” 

This year is also a big milestone in James’ story as it marks 20 years since he started working in Emergency Medicine.  

“Looking back on where the EM specialty, and where the College, has come in that time we didn’t have the College as it is now, we were a faculty linked to a group of colleges.  

“Over the years, the ‘Faculty of Accident & Emergency Medicine’ developed into the College of Emergency Medicine and into the Royal College. Through my career I have seen the College formulate, and there is something special about that. 

“In the early days, it was important for Emergency Medicine to have a voice and for that voice to be heard, both within the profession but also wider with patients, the public and politicians. A lot of work went into developing RCEM, and now we are an established Royal College, that is important. 

“We think about why we exist, what we are here for, and how we can continue to be that face of Emergency Medicine. We want to ensure that we, as a College, represent our membership, but on top of that, that the public using our Emergency Departments are getting the best possible care as patients. 

“One of the most effective ways of looking to the future is to understand where we come from. We’re building on the work of many important figureheads in Emergency Medicine from this point forward.” 

James started to realise his passion for Emergency Medicine after training in surgery. He discovered the excitement of diagnosing patients as they arrived at the hospital, which led him to embrace the rewarding work of Emergency Departments.  

“To be honest, there was no looking back from that point. It just felt right. The environments, the people you work with, the breadth of problems that you experience working with patients who could be anything from a few days old to 100 years.  

“That’s the joy of Emergency Medicine. You face any problem that is thrown at you, and you do it with the most fantastic team around you.” 

Throughout his development as an emergency physician, James has found the College to be a guiding force, with his gratitude and enthusiasm for the EM specialty being steadily fed back through his management of RCEM’s groups and committees.  

He describes the role of Vice President Treasurer as a natural step for him as he joins the Trustee Board and Executive Committee, and he is looking forward to supporting the College   and developing a much greater insight and influencing in how it delivers its different strands of work. 

“Scotty’s brilliant command of the Treasurer role has led the College to be in a very good position. That’s one of the key things to build upon, is to keep that steady hand directing the College through challenging times.  

“When you see what circumstances the health service is in, and the wider country, this makes the work to continue what the College – a non-profit-making organisation – provides to its members so crucial. 

“It is an interesting year to be taking on this role because of the General Election in the year ahead. One thing we know in Emergency Medicine is that our health care system, the NHS, and very often Emergency Departments, get attention from the public, politicians and the media. And so, in a year of a General Election, we can be assured that our health care system and Emergency Medicine are going to be a very much talked about topic. 

“It is crucial that the importance of RCEM’s General Election Manifesto is recognised by all those that need to make change as we continue to try and #ResuscitateEmergencyCare, but I’m confident that we can keep channelling the strength of individuals from Taunton and beyond and continue to have an impact that our members and their patients will appreciate in the challenging year ahead.” 

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