President's News, February 2020

President's News Header Image

This year started with significant political change as the United Kingdom said goodbye to fellow members of the European Union. This change not only marks an end of an era, but also a new beginning with important trade negotiations due to determine our country’s future. Whatever your thoughts on the issue of Brexit, we cannot ignore the far-reaching implications this will have for patients and staff within our health and social care sectors. The College has been very clear that the government must put patient safety and healthcare at the heart of Brexit negotiations during this transition period.

We need to see a strong commitment from the government that any deal will not compromise the availability of life-saving medicine and medical devices, nor reduce UK participation in European research and collaboration on data sharing and health security.

Alongside these concerns, the crux remains the staffing of our health service. We are all aware of the problems that already exist with high vacancy rates across all medical specialties within the NHS. It is therefore vital that our health and social care system’s ability to recruit talent from Europe is protected while the UK grows its own workforce. The government must avoid putting any additional pressure on an already stretched healthcare system which continues to remain close to breaking point.

The scale of this challenge must not be underestimated and I urge the government to work closely with Medical Royal Colleges and other healthcare organisations to achieve the best deal for patients, healthcare professionals and the future of the NHS.

RCoA response to the publication of the Paterson Inquiry Report

The Paterson report has shown that independent hospitals can no longer use different funding and operational arrangements as an excuse for not complying with recognised professional standards. The College reiterates its call for the government to require that governance structures within independent hospitals mirror those in the NHS.

Alignment of standards and clinical governance across the two sectors is critically important in light of the increased outsourcing of NHS surgical procedures to independent hospitals. In our experience, independent hospitals often fail to engage with national clinical audits and formal accreditation processes such as our own internationally renowned National Audit Projects and Anaesthesia Clinical Services Accreditation service.

We are not ignoring the challenges that all hospitals face, but every effort must be made by the independent sector and the NHS to learn lessons from these failures. It is imperative that clear structures be developed to allow for the rapid and confidential communication of concerns about the competence, clinical performance, attitudes and behaviours of healthcare professionals between NHS and independent hospitals.

Guidelines for the Provision of Anaesthetic Services 2020 published

The College is pleased to announce that the Guidelines for Provision of Anaesthetic Services 2020 (GPAS) have now been published. The chapters have been updated using our NICE accredited development process. NICE accreditation gives additional credibility to GPAS, providing independent assurance that the guidelines are robust and evidence based.

First published in 1994, GPAS is designed for anaesthetists with managerial responsibilities to set recommendations which inform how anaesthetic departments are run. Not only does GPAS shape the standards used by the Anaesthesia Clinical Services Accreditation (ACSA) scheme, but national regulators also recognise them.

Recognition by an external and nationally recognised body such as NICE increases the authority of GPAS and allows for a wider application of its guidelines – all of which work ultimately to help keep patients safe.

The College is always looking for ways to continually improve GPAS. In line with the College strategy on perioperative medicine and the establishment of the Centre for Perioperative Care - in partnership with the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, GPs, Physicians and Nursing – GPAS work has begun on a new chapter for the perioperative care of elective and urgent care patients due for publication 2021.

RCPCH partners with CPOC to improve patient care

The Centre for Perioperative Care (CPOC) is pleased to announce the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) as a new partner to the cross-organisational, multidisciplinary partnership led by the College.

Surgical emergencies in children amount to up to 20% of all district general hospital emergency surgeries and approximately 50% of general paediatric surgeries. CPOC will therefore benefit from having a specialist paediatric voice represented on the board and contributing to the partnership.

Dr Sian Harris, a consultant paediatrician at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, is going to represent RCPCH on the CPOC board. Read her full statement here.

Final FRCA Examination update – changes to the CRQ paper

The March 2020 paper will contain only CRQ format questions. These questions are designed to assess a candidate’s ability to think critically and prioritise information. This is assessed in the way the questions are answered and marked. Candidates should read the question instructions carefully and only give the information that is asked. For example, where a CRQ question asks for a specific number of responses e.g. ‘List 4 factors contributing to X’, only the first distinct answer per line will be awarded marks. Any additional answers on that same line will not be considered. For more information on this change, please refer to the guidance and further information on ‘planned changes to the examination’.

In addition, the following guidance will be provided on the front cover of the CRQ booklets:

You should aim to answer each question/subsection within the specific spaces provided. If you have to use extra paper, please make sure that you make it clear which question/subsection you are answering. Where you are asked for a specific number of responses (e.g. “List 6 factors contributing to X”), you must limit yourself to this number. Only the first distinct answer per line will be awarded marks. Any additional answers on that same line will not be considered but you may cross answers out to add others if you change your mind. This will also apply to any additional paper you may have used.

Research and Quality Improvement

New BJA/RCoA/ANZCA collaborative research grant

The British Journal of Anaesthesia, RCoA, and Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthesia have launched a new collaborative research grant, intended to support a collaborative research project in anaesthesia, perioperative medicine or pain medicine between researchers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Applicants should be from both the UK and either Australia and/or New Zealand. There must be a Principal Investigator based in the UK and a Principal Investigator based in Australia or New Zealand. Click here for more information.

NIAA Grants 2020 Round 1 open

As well as the above award, the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA) has opened its Round 1 grants for 2020. These include large, medium and small project grants. Instructions, guidance and FAQs can be found here.

The John Snow Intercalated Awards are also still available.

POMCTN Spring Event announced

The Perioperative Medicine Clinical Trials Network (POMCTN) is asking you to save the date for its next Spring meeting, to be held at the College on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 May 2020. The event will include a day of trial presentations and discussion and a “sandbox” day to develop new trial proposal. More information on how to book your place can be found here.

PQIP Poster Competition 2020

The Perioperative Quality Improvement Programme (PQIP) is inviting poster submissions for presentation at Anaesthesia 2020. If you have worked on a quality improvement or research project that uses PQIP data and/or addresses one of PQIP’s top five priorities, here is the chance to showcase your work to an international audience of over 500 College fellows and members.

The competition is open to all healthcare professionals or student healthcare professionals with a prize of £250. To enter, submit a digital copy of your poster to events@rcoa.ac.uk along with a signed copy of the guidelines form by midnight on Monday 30 March 2020.

RCoA endorses Airway Matters: A Massive Open Online Course

The team behind the successful Perioperative Medicine in Action MOOC from University College London and University College London Hospitals have built a second MOOC - Airway Matters. This MOOC focuses on safe multidisciplinary management of the airway by highlighting NAP4 recommendations, emphasising current emergency management guidance though the guidelines of the Difficult Airway Society (DAS), and presenting novel techniques. The MOOC has been assessed by the College’s Education and Professional Development Committee and has now received RCoA endorsement.

Airway Matters brings together patient experiences, leading international experts, authors of guidelines, and frontline clinicians to create a unique course. Running over five weeks with four flexible hours of learning per week, the course is completely free to access. The next round of Airway Matters is planned to start on the 11 May 2020 – register here.

Upcoming events

Anaesthesia 2020, Manchester, 18–20 May 2020

With three months to go until Anaesthesia 2020 we are getting really excited about the conference and fantastic line up of speakers we have across the three days.

This year’s poster competition has been launched. If you have worked on a quality improvement or research project that uses Perioperative Quality Improvement Programme (PQIP) data and/or addresses one of PQIP’s top five priorities, as outlined in PQIP’s 2018–19 Annual Report, submit a poster for a chance to showcase your work to an international audience of over 500 College fellows and members. You can find out more about the completion or how to enter here. Submission deadline is 30 March.

View the full programme and book online now.

Global anaesthesia: towards health equity, London, 24 March 2020

Do you have an interest in Global health? Join us for a day of lecture-based discussion on the delivery and provision of anaesthesia across the world. Hear from world-class speakers on current challenges, new initiatives and how we can move towards health equity.

Topics will include:

  • the health of migrant populations in the UK
  • how religious background affects health access
  • the impact of climate change on health equity
  • developing global health skills.

Anaesthetic updates, Southampton, 24 April 2020

Join us in Southampton this April to discover new developments on the horizon from today’s thought leaders. Learn how best to combat the growing issues you will face in your anaesthetic practice.

You will have a valuable opportunity to connect with speciality experts, discuss your experiences with peers, and gain new ideas that will improve your own practice, as well as maintain your competence and earn CPD points to aid revalidation.

After the Final FRCA: Making the Most of Training Years 5 to 7, Birmingham, 3 April 2020

If you are preparing your future in anaesthesia then attending this event is a must. You will hear from experienced anaesthetic consultants who will provide insights into various career paths, helping you make a more informed decision on your next steps.

Feedback from last year:

“An excellent day with enthusiastic speakers giving a good idea of how to pursue their career path.”

“Useful day – lots of food for thought and good suggestions for way to improve CV.”

“It was well organised and answered a lot of questions that I had about career path and helped my decision making.”

Memorial fund for Dr Ratnasabapathy Sashidharan

Dr Ratnasabapathy Sashidharan worked as a Consultant Anaesthetist at Barts and the London NHS Trust, and was appointed as the College’s Bernard Johnson Adviser in Postgraduate Anaesthetic studies (Overseas trainees) in October 2008. Sadly, soon afterwards ‘Sashi’ passed away.

The College of Anaesthesiologists and Intensivists of Sri Lanka has purchased a property at Rajagiriya for the use of College educational activities. The R Sashidharan Memorial Auditorium fund has been established to raise money to build a new auditorium and training centre. The auditorium will be named after ‘Sashi’ and this facility will be mainly used for CPR training of healthcare professionals, public and school children as a part of “Restart a heart – Sri Lanka” and ‘Kids Save Lives – Sri Lanka’ projects along with other educational activities of the College.

Details on how to contribute to the memorial fund can be found here.

GMC Evaluation of Trainer Recognition Framework

The GMC published an independent evaluation of the trainer recognition framework. The key findings are that the framework, which became compulsory in 2016, has had a benefit at a cultural level to help professionalise medical education and training, increased the quality and visibility of medical education; acted as a lever to get time for recognised trainer roles in job planning, and skill development in local education providers and helped to clarify what doctors in training can expect from their educational and clinical supervisors. It also identified potential areas for development, including looking again at how the framework is applied to undergraduate medical education. And it highlighted questions for the GMC to consider about the scope of trainers’ roles and awareness of the GMC role in the framework.

2020 Annual General Meeting

The College’s 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held as follows:

  • Date: Monday 18 May 2020

  • Time: 12.20 – 12.35
  • Venue: Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, Manchester M16 0QG

Any motions for the meeting’s agenda should be submitted to the Chief Executive by midday on 3 April 2020 to: ceo@rcoa.ac.uk. A full AGM agenda will be available online the month before the meeting.

This year’s AGM takes place as part of Anaesthesia 2020. If you are not attending Anaesthesia 2020 and wish to attend the AGM only, please email ceo@rcoa.ac.uk

If you have any comments on the issues highlighted in this e-newsletter or would like to express your views on any other matter, I would like to hear from you. Please contact me via presidentnews@rcoa.ac.uk

Professor Ravi Mahajan
President