Bulletin 130, November 2021

From the Editor, Dr Helgi Johannsson

Welcome to the November edition of the Bulletin – our research issue. As we hurtle towards Christmas I’m dearly hoping no one will have been redeployed, and life continues at a relatively normal pace. Normally I feel reasonably confident predicting the six weeks in the future that is necessary for the magazine, but as I write this I have to admit I don’t have much notion of what is likely to happen, but I’m going to predict that we continue in relatively similar conditions that were present when I wrote this, and any further restrictive measures have been mild. COVID-19 may not be firmly in the rear view mirror, and probably won’t be for some time, but we’re certainly making a decent attempt at overtaking. If the last two years have taught us anything, however, it’s the importance of spare capacity in the system and our ability to expand a service without impacting on the rest of our work.

I recently had a heated discussion with an eminent professor of anaesthesia about the importance of research, and we both agreed that there is an urgent need to improve communication of research from the academic departments to the anaesthetic team on the ground. I am delighted to see that after the necessary halt during our COVID-19 surges, the research programmes are getting back on track in Professors Moonesinghe and Moppett’s article (page 30). There is so much untapped potential for research in anaesthesia and perioperative medicine, and much we do day-to-day, and teach, that has very little or no evidence base (cricoid pressure anyone?).

As we go into winter, our Bulletin digital offering will improve, and I want to thank Marc Taylor for his excellent work on this project (page 14). I can’t wait to explore the new opportunities for faster publishing, while still retaining the best aspects of the print version of the journal. It’s long overdue, but I hope it will be worth the wait.

With the climate crisis and sustainability in the headlines, Dr Nur Lubis reminds us that procurement isn’t just about money (page 46). The NHS is an enormous business and carries a lot of power. We must ensure the equipment we use is not only produced sustainably, but using ethical principles and fair pay and conditions for the workers producing it.

Finally, our new president, Dr Fiona Donald hits the ground running in her message, and highlights our Anaesthetistsfit for the future programme. Wellbeing is so much more than yoga and meditation. It’s about maintaining a stable and adequate workforce, improving retention, and training enough doctors to meet the increased demands for our services. As someone who is about two-thirds through his anaesthetic career I think it’s vital to provide flexible enough working conditions to allow career breaks, and extend our working careers into later life. I was thrilled when my friend Dr Michael O’Connor agreed to write about his six month move to Cornwall after a particularly difficult start to his consultant career, and impressed by how flexible and accommodating his clinical director was to allow this (page 50). We are more than just pawns on the ground, we are integral to the heart of the hospital. If we are treated well, we will reward our employers many times over.