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Officers' update, August 2015

Ian Currie FRCOG, Vice President for UK Affairs, writes...

As Vice President for UK Affairs, I would like to update you this month on the structure of the newly developed RCOG UK Board.  Before you switch off and see this as a largely internal College development, I believe that for the first time we now have in place a platform to discuss professional issues tailored to UK consultants. Many of the professional issues discussed by the Board and outlined below will apply to everybody in our profession, both in the UK and internationally.

The first challenge is to take the recommendations from the Becoming Tomorrow’s Specialist report and to look at mechanisms and initiatives that will embed these into practice. The Becoming Tomorrow’s Specialist report provides a framework for professional development primarily for newly appointed specialists. However the recommendations are relevant to specialists at all career stages and include amongst others how to demonstrate safe practice, the maintenance and enhancement of core clinical skills and promoting team working.  Some recommendations are clear and concise but many are challenging and require some thought as to how best to implement them.  I am keen that these recommendations do not just sit on a shelf and become dusty, however some are challenging to implement, particularly in a unit that is possibly not achieving its goals. Team working would be a good example of this.

As a College, how does one suggest how we should be working as effective teams? What principles should everyone be working towards to make good team work the norm?  When you walk into a unit as an outsider and see good team working in place, it is so obvious.  It leaps out at you in just a few seconds.  Taking that culture, however and transplanting it into a unit that does not have those same qualities is a different matter. There is a responsibility locally to effect change but it is my belief that the RCOG should be putting into place the building blocks and professional standards that all units should be looking to achieve. We do this extremely well in clinical practice but when it comes to the hands-on management of a patient, I believe we still have work to do on the implementation and the so-called ‘softer issues’. I personally do not like this term as I think it diminishes the importance of those factors that are clearly absent in poorly functioning units and possibly have the greatest impact on patient care.

I am keen for the UK Board to not only discuss high-level strategic UK issues that are pertinent to our profession but also create a forum that UK consultants feel they can contribute to. Issues such as revalidation will be on the agenda as well as working practices, new consultant posts, leadership and management issues. I would encourage you all to email me directly if you have any suggestions on what is important in your professional lives.

Let us open up a dialogue. Through me you have a voice and an opportunity, to put your views and feedback directly on the discussion table.  Please use it and email me direct on