Letter from RCoA President published in the Guardian

Published: 02/06/2020

College President Professor Ravi Mahajan responded to Richard Horton’s recent opinion piece on scientific support of government actions with a letter to the Guardian, which was published online and in print.

Medical leaders must engage, not just criticise 

Richard Horton is correct to highlight the vital need for medical leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic (How can any scientists stand by this government now?, 27 May). Unsurprisingly, medical leadership is not only about critiquing Government’s actions during this extraordinary situation. It’s about questioning and working collaboratively to proactively deliver effective and timely solutions to challenges. 

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), which represents the largest single hospital-based medical specialty, continuously engages and communicates with senior political and healthcare leaders on behalf of our anaesthetist members, on issues such as personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks, testing, the wellbeing of healthcare workers and drug supplies. We have also collaborated to develop clinical advice and guidance so that our members and those from other medical specialties can deliver the best patient care during this pandemic. As with other Medical Royal Colleges, the RCoA has communicated the first-hand experiences of medical staff on the COVID-19 frontline so that decision-makers can learn from their insights. 

Much of this engagement is not in the public domain, so not everyone will be aware that these efforts are taking place. But, rest assured, they are and the RCoA will continue to challenge politicians on issues of importance to anaesthetists and our patients throughout the pandemic and beyond. The RCoA has called for a public inquiry which should not be an exercise to allocate blame, but how to be better prepared when another such health crisis emerges.