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Newsletter: President's Update

Newsletter: President's Update


A busy weekend on call was a reminder of my core job, looking after my patients. I had one of those shifts where every patient had an additional level of complexity. The patient with ureteric colic was also pregnant, the person with the major pelvic fracture also had incidental septic emboli and the child with a benign sounding head injury was a haemophiliac.

We know winter has arrived when the Government starts publishing weekly ED performance ‘sit reps’ – these are statistical bulletins which show in rather stark numerical form the very human crisis we are each experiencing every day in our EDs.

We have made an effort to turn this data into meaningful information. Check it out here – Sitreps 2023/24 | Flourish. This tells me that this winter might still be tough, but maybe not as bad as last winter.

Last Sunday the new Health Secretary Victoria Atkins MP (who replaced Steve Barclay MP in the PM’s reshuffle last month) was doing the media rounds. Speaking on Sky News she promised that the winter crisis was her priority.

But she will have other things on her mind too as on Wednesday, the Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA announced that their talks had broken down and announced two continuous strikes over December and January.

Whatever your view is on the strikes, it is disappointing that the talks have broken down. My condolences go to the rota writers.

And we know the inevitable rise in flu cases is coming. If there is one thing you take away from my musings here – it is PLEASE do get vaccinated against flu.

For some counterintuitive reason healthcare professionals can often be reluctant to get immunised.

And while I respect it is a personal choice, please do give it some serious consideration if you haven’t taken it up so far.

Having the jab protects you, it protects your family, it protects your colleagues, and it protects your patients.

Whatever challenges we are facing here, I am sure you would all agree they are nothing when compared with the horrific situation in Gaza and Israel.

I, and other members of the College, have received numerous communications asking us to make a further statement on the conflict. We have also received many messages asking us not to say anything.

We were a signatory to a statement by the International Federation of Emergency Medicine but we have been urged by members with many different viewpoints to say more.

We had a lengthy discussion at Council last week where it was accepted that a statement from a small medical royal college would have little influence on the conflict itself.

However, it was striking that many members and fellows working in UK departments are carrying significant personal strain about this issue.

We have deliberately avoided any comment on issues which are beyond our remit. You can read it here. This statement will simultaneously be too much and not enough for many people.

November continued to be a busy month with the publication of our report Right Place, Right Care. It is a detailed piece of work published by RCEM but written in collaboration with 16 other leading health care organisations and Royal Medical Colleges. It attempts to capture the learning from last year’s ‘ground zero’ moment in EM and makes a series of practical recommendations aimed at preventing the same thing happening again.

We also saw important changes to CESR come into effect – find out more here and the publication of our latest position statement regarding Pharmacists and Pharmacy Services in the ED.

In last month’s blog I mentioned the College’s new Quality Improvement Programme on Time Critical Medications which had just been launched.

And which is being spearheaded by the amazing and inspirational Dr Jonny Acheson (check out his new video in the main newsletter).

Well, I am delighted that we have already had more than 100 EDs from across the country sign up. If you don’t know if yours is one of them – find out. And if it isn’t, get involved. Patients who need TCM will attend every one of your EDs and it is so important we get their care right.

At the next Monthly Members’ Meeting next week on 14 December, my Vice President Ian ‘Higgi’ Higginson will be hosting a short segment on an important guidance he has put together around ED Crowding. It’s free to join and I would welcome seeing you there if you have half an hour or so.

Now I’m off to see if I can still fit in my best suit after all the Quality Street and Mince Pies which appear in the staff room this time of year, as tomorrow (Thursday 7 December) we are holding one of my favourite events of the year – our winter Diploma Ceremony.

I am delighted to say that for the cohort of graduands who are attending the morning session there will be a very important guest in attendance – our wonderful Royal Patron HRH The Princess Royal which will make the event even more special.

I, and everyone here at RCEM give our wholehearted congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to get to this special day. Enjoy it – you’ve earned it!

Now, while it is a little away just yet, this is the last newsletter from me for 2023, so it just leaves me to wish everyone a healthy and safe festive period, and a very Happy New Year. It has been an honour to represent you this year.


PS – Next month’s newsletter will be sent on Wednesday 10 January 2024.

Adrian Boyle, President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine

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