This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. ENTRIES OPEN FOR BMJ

GROUP AWARDS 2012 ENTRIES have opened for the 2012 BMJ Group Improving Health Awards. Nominations are open for a total of 12 awards which are designed to

recognise excellence in medical practice. For the third year running, MDDUS will be the headline sponsor. Categories from previous years include Junior Doctor of the Year and

Research Paper of the Year. Seven new categories have been created for 2012 including the Karen Woo Award, in memory of the doctor killed in Afghanistan in 2010, which honours an individual who has gone beyond the call of duty to care for patients (see p12 of this issue). Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the London Hilton on

Park Lane on May 23, 2012. Nominations for awards can be made online at until February 28.


PREPARED” IN ACUTE CARE NEWLY qualified doctors don’t feel prepared to look after acutely ill patients or prescribe drugs, a study has found.

Senior colleagues

tended to share the trainees’ concerns, according to the study in the Postgraduate Medical Journal. It suggests recent changes in medical undergraduate training could be to blame. Trends in the ratings

given by professional

colleagues suggest that preparedness may have declined since the medical students’ guidance document Tomorrow’s Doctors was first published by the GMC in 1993. The report concludes: “The results of this study suggest that recent

changes to UK undergraduate training, while improving preparedness in some areas, may have neglected acute care skills.”


MEDICAL training should be more flexible to allow junior doctors to switch specialties and develop skills in other disciplines. That’s the view of the NHS

Future Forum in its report on education and training. It says greater flexibility would also allow trainees to take up academic fellowships or international posts. Properly constructed jobs with

educational opportunities should be made available to doctors who don’t want to become consultants or GPs once they have their certificate of completion of training, the Forum adds. It also supports the RCGP’s calls to extend GP training and says generalism should be fostered as a career choice for doctors.

The recommendations were made as part of the government’s “listening exercise” on its plans to modernise the NHS as set out in the white paper, Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce. The forum’s proposals, and

plans to keep the deanery set-up, have been largely welcomed by the BMA. But Tom Dolphin, chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, expressed concern at plans to encourage trainees to take time out of training to bolster their experience, adding: “If trainees are in a training programme, then that programme should deliver the experiences they need without them having to take time out.”


HELPLINE LAUNCHED NHS staff in England can now raise concerns about patient care using a new whistleblowing helpline. Health secretary Andrew Lansley launched the free, government- funded service to encourage staff and employers in both the social care sector and the NHS to speak out about poor practice. The helpline is in addition to a new contractual duty to raise concerns which will be enshrined in the new NHS Constitution. A web-based whistleblowing service is also being developed. The new helpline number is 08000 724 725 and operates weekdays from 8am to 6pm with an out-of-hours answering service.


ARE AGED 35 TO 50 SURGEONS aged between 35 and 50 provide the safest care compared with their younger or older colleagues, according to a new study. Research published on looked at operative complications

at five hospitals in France. It focused on patients undergoing a thyroidectomy and found complications were more likely amongst inexperienced surgeons and those who had been in the job for more than 20 years. The results appear to support previous studies which have shown

experts tend to reach their peak performance after about 10 years in their specialty. Older doctors who have been practising for a long time may have less factual knowledge and may be less likely to adhere to evidence-based medicine which risks safety of care, studies have also shown. Data for the study was collected from more than 3,500

operations carried out by 28 surgeons. The results found that surgeons with 20 years or more of experience had three times the risk of a patient suffering recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy and more than seven times the risk of hypoparathyroidism. The researchers also found that younger surgeons performed less well. The link between a surgeon’s age and complication rates was

irrespective of how complex the surgical case list was, which suggests it wasn’t because the older, more experienced surgeons were seeing the “harder-to-treat” patients. The findings raise concerns about ongoing training and motivation

of surgeons throughout their careers, although experts stress they are not conclusive and further research is needed.

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