02 FYi

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FAX machines are being banned from the NHS in England in a bid to move to more secure hi-tech systems. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has blocked NHS trusts

from buying new machines from January 2019 and has pledged to phase them out entirely by 31 March, 2020. A freedom of information request revealed in July 2018 that more than 8,000 fax machines are still being used across the NHS in England. But from April, NHS organisations will have to use more modern,

Welcome to your FYi

ONE of the many rewarding aspects of practising medicine is the ability to engage with people from a range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. However, communication difficulties can arise that can negatively impact care. But before you reach for Google Translate, read my advice article on page 10. Sticking with the

communication theme, how easy to understand are your outpatient clinic letters? Find out more about the latest guidance on getting these vital letters right on page 4. From Alzheimer to Zenker, medicine is full of eponyms. On page 7 Dr Allan Gaw explores the fascinating history behind this naming convention. Many junior doctors may

think that NHS indemnity provides all the help and support you need should you run into professional difficulties. But

what about all the things it won’t help you with? Find out why you need an MDO on page 5. Increasing numbers of

doctors are being asked to take part in media broadcasts and various online channels. Find out how to manage the risks on page 6. Opening up a world of career opportunities for fellow doctors is NHS entrepreneur Dr Abeyna Jones. She talks about starting a business and finding happiness on page 12. Gastroenterologist Dr Helen

Fidler offers an insight into her “marvellous” specialty and offers practical career advice in our article on page 8. Finally, our case study on

page 14 focuses on an accusation of rudeness and poor communication in the care of a patient who attends A&E with severe back pain.

• Dr Naeem Nazem Editor

secure systems to comply with new standards. Any system that does not meet these standards will be phased out and the government has said it will end contracts with providers who do not fall in line. Mr Hancock said: “Email is much more secure and miles more effective

than fax machines. The NHS can be the best in the world – and we can start with getting rid of fax machines.” Richard Kerr, Chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Commission on

the Future of Surgery, said it was “absurd” that so many NHS hospital trusts were still relying on faxes. However, RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard expressed

concerns. She said: “While fax machines may be terribly old-fashioned, they do work and remain a highly valued and reliable form of communication between many GP surgeries and their local hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. “A wholesale switchover to electronic communication seems like a

brilliant idea but for some practices it would require significant financial investment in robust systems to ensure their reliability was at least as good as the trusty fax machine, as well as having the time to embed – neither of which we have at present as GP teams are already beyond capacity trying to cope with unprecedented patient demand.”


Dr Naeem Nazem MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCP LLB (Hons)



DESIGN: Connect Communications

CORRESPONDENCE: FYi Editor MDDUS Mackintosh House 120 Blythswood Street Glasgow G2 4EA

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CANCER BREATH TEST A CLINICAL trial has begun on a breath test to detect certain cancers at an early stage. It’s being run by Cancer Research UK in collaboration with Owlstone

Medical to test the new “breath biopsy” technology. The researchers believe the technology has “huge potential to

provide a non-invasive look into what’s happening in the body and could help to find cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be effective”. In the trial, breath samples will be collected from 1,500 people to see

FYi is published by The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, Registered in Scotland No 5093 at Mackintosh House, 120 Blythswood Street, Glasgow G2 4EA. The MDDUS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MDDUS are discretionary as set out in the Articles of Association. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors in FYi are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.

if odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be detected. Cells produce a range of VOCs when carrying out biochemical reactions as part of their metabolism. When that metabolism becomes altered, such as in cancer and various other conditions, cells can release a different pattern of VOCs. The researchers aim to identify these patterns. Should the technology prove effective in accurately identifying

cancers, the team hope that breath biopsies could in future be used in GP practices to determine whether patients should be referred for further diagnostic tests.

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