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A letter from Sussex Place, July 2013

Ian Currie, Honorary Secretary, writes...

I must first pay tribute this month to all those who were involved in the delivery of the RCOG 2013 World Congress in Liverpool. I promised that it would be an excellent event and it certainly came up to the mark. Thank you to the College staff, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and the local organising committee who put together a superbly stimulating programme. There were a record number of delegates from over 60 countries all congregated together for the purpose of enhancing their knowledge on women’s health. Preparations for next year’s congress in Hyderabad are already well underway with our Indian Members and Fellows promising to surpass this year’s stunning event. I am sure we will not be disappointed.

So what is the value of going to a Congress? There is certainly now a steady move towards e-learning and there is no doubt also that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find the time or finances to get away from base and attend a conference. I am of the firm belief that the ability to network and speak with colleagues greatly enhances the learning experience and that conferences still have a vital role to play in our education. By networking, I do not mean just catching up socially with old friends, but rather the ability to bounce ideas off someone, discuss clinical conundrums with a colleague and exchanges views with specialists in the same field. The discussions over coffee between lectures add immensely to the overall impact of a conference and I always return to work full of new ideas and a refreshing impetus to move things forward on issues that I had placed on the back burner for a while. We need that revitalisation or we become stagnant.

The international and global perspective should not be forgotten either. Seeing how other clinicians in different countries deal with the same issues in a slightly different way often gives you a new perspective on how to manage those same conditions. One may not always agree on matters, but I think healthy debate and constructive criticism is always invaluable. It is also surprising to see actually how much in common we have, and how we are all striving to give the best quality care to our patients. The RCOG guidelines are held in high esteem right across the world and we really do need to give thanks to the work of the Guidelines Committee and the contributions that clinicians make in order to produce such high quality material. I also had the pleasure of meeting friends and colleagues from across the Atlantic (ACOG) and Australasia (RANZCOG ) who similarly produce high quality guidelines as well as other distinguished Colleges. I then began to think why can’t we produce a global guideline to be used across the world? Surely our views are not poles apart and we could somehow agree how we should manage a condition such as shoulder dystocia or eclampsia.

Finally, and on a different note, I would like to point the UK Members and Fellows to the following short video clip produced by the King’s Fund explaining the complexities of the NHS infrastructure. It was sent through to me by our Treasurer, Paul Fogarty, and I would urge everyone working in the UK NHS to watch it and absorb!

Ian Currie
RCOG Honorary Secretary