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Newsletter: Vice-President's Update

Newsletter: Vice-President's Update

Whilst the cat’s away….

This is normally the President’s blog but I am stepping in for Adrian while he is incapacitated.

For those of you who are not aware, Adrian was due to be taking part in a cycling “holiday” which would have seen him undertake the Trans Andean cycle challenge – 1,100 miles over nine days and a daunting climb up to 3,800 metres on gravel.

He was planning to raise money for RCEM Fundraising. Unfortunately, he came off his bike whilst training, and fractured both his hip and collarbone. I am sure you will join me in wishing him best wishes and a speedy recovery.

I am also sure we will hear about his experiences as a patient in future blogs. In the meantime, although we can’t keep him off social media, the VP team are covering his (RCEM) shifts.

It won’t come as a surprise to anybody who works in EM that January has been … well … January. EDs in all four nations are overwhelmingly crowded. RCEM publishes Winter Situation Reports data.

It’s tough, and frustrating that the responses remain inadequate. It still seems that at many levels the need to spin, for political or preservation purposes, outweighs the requirement to acknowledge the reality of what is going on in our EDs.

The latter is a pre-requisite if we are to see the policy, funding and practical changes needed to tackle the problems we face. We work hard to advocate noisily for our members and patients, and to constructively engage with policy makers and health service leaders whenever we can.

In England, it is one year on from the much vaunted Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery plan. NHSE is claiming an increase in 5,000 beds, although there is some uncertainty about how much smoke and how many mirrors have been involved.

Last year we estimated that we needed at least 12,000 additional beds in England alone, so it is little surprise that things don’t feel much better in our departments. In a snap poll of clinical leads the majority felt that in terms of crowding and safety, things have got worse. There is no reason to think that this is anything other than a widespread sentiment.

Currently there seems to be a focus on driving ambulance offloads into our corridors, and on focusing on lower acuity patients. In England, the latter is likely so that NHSE can claim success against the unambitious goal of hitting 76% performance against the four-hour standard.

It is infuriating that we still see targets being chased by putting more pressure on our departments. The focus needs to be on the root causes, and on those patients waiting for beds in every available space. We continue to be vocal on this point.

If you haven’t seen the new crowding guidance it is now published.

We’ve been clear that we shouldn’t have to be publishing it, but we hope it proves useful. There’s a separate blog about it. All feedback gratefully received.

In other news Measles is on the up and is likely to continue to increase. We will be publishing some information but there is already good guidance on the management of measles available. Please see the link in the newsletter.

Importantly, as health care professionals we need to consider our own vaccination status. The advice we have had is that evidence of protection includes documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine or a positive antibody test for both measles and rubella.

This should be available in your occupational health department. Anyone born in the UK before 1970 is likely to have had measles as a child. You can check whether you had your childhood vaccines with your GP, and if not, you can receive MMR vaccination on the NHS.

If you are not sure, you can still be vaccinated. The rate of side effects is lower with second (and subsequent) doses and so it is not harmful to have an extra dose.

It’s soon time for the EMTA conference up in Newcastle (late Feb), and also for the CPD conference which will take place from the 16-18 April at the ICC Wales in Newport.  The programme has just been published. Time to book your tickets if you haven’t already. It should be a great event and I hope to see you there.

Our thanks also go to the team from Medics’ Money – Ed Cantelo (Doctor & accountant), Andy Pow (doctor & accountant) and Tommy Perkins (doctor) who last week hosted an extremely informative and practical online session about finances, tailored especially for RCEM members. There is a recording is available – link in the newsletter. And we are already planning the next one.

Finally for this brief blog, we’ve welcomed two new colleagues to the RCEM team. Dr James Gagg has just been appointed to the rebranded role of Vice President Treasurer, and Professor Matt Reed has taken over at the chair of our Research Committee.

There are profiles of both James and Matt on the website (links in the newsletter). They take over from Dr Scott Hepburn and Prof Jason Smith respectively, and we would like to thank both of them for their contribution to our College over the last few years.

If you would like to get more involved in the many different activities that RCEM undertakes for our speciality, there are many opportunities, wherever you are in your career.

They tend to be advertised on the College website, in the newsletter, and on social media. If you are interested but aren’t sure about where you might fit in, please feel free to contact us and we can point you in the right direction.

Please do look after yourselves and each other. There is a range of support options available through the College – details in the newsletter.

There is still joy to be found in EM, whether it’s in our clinical work, service development, training and education, research, or from the other opportunities that our extraordinary skills open up. I remain proud to be an Emergency Physician, and both to be part of, and to represent, our specialty.

Take care.


Ian Higginson,
Vice President

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