Bulletin 123, September 2020

From the Editor, Dr Helgi Johannsson

Welcome to the September Bulletin.

As I write this I remember hoping in the last editorial to be in rural Bulgaria at this point, however, due to the pandemic Bulgaria morphed into the Peak District, which was no less wonderful, but a little wetter. 

The last few months have been tumultuous for healthcare in the UK, and many of us have changed the way we work completely. We staffed makeshift intensive care units, anaesthetists became intensivists again, and we welcomed doctors and nurses from many other specialties into our numbers when the surge was at its highest. An interesting development of this for me is that our surgical trainees seem much more familiar with our work, and clearly understand the issues when we struggle with a patient’s ventilation. 

With this in mind, I make no apology for the fact that there are a lot of articles on the COVID-19 pandemic in this issue, and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming more articles in the next few months on how the tumult has changed the way we work – particularly on how we find new ways of delivering education and training. 

After contracting COVID-19 in March (thankfully mildly) I am still slowly regaining my sense of smell, and recognise many of the emotions expressed in Dr Richard Hay’s personal account of what happened when he contracted the infection (page 48).

During the summer, the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis caused us all to stop and think. I’m proud of the College for not only issuing a meaningful statement (https://bit.ly/RCoARDDs) quickly, but for starting work on trying to improve issues of race within our training and workplace. I am delighted to welcome an article where Drs Segun Olusanya and Adrian Wong discuss their experience of training in the UK. Reading their reflections has confirmed to me how important role models are in medicine. It is clear from his writing that Segun became a great role model to the black patients he wrote about, and I’m sure to black medical students, junior doctors, and those on work experience. Without role models it’s very difficult to visualise your goal – from becoming a doctor, through to being a consultant, to leadership positions, (and indeed Council membership). Role models show us what we can achieve and how we can get there. 

So, gazing into my crystal ball towards publication in September, I sincerely hope we will be busy catching up with our elective work, and getting back to a semblance of normality. So far predictions of a large second wave have proved unfounded and as I write the intensive care units in my trust are not looking after a single patient with COVID-19 pneumonia. I really hope I’m right, long may the overflow ICUs stay closed.