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RCP appoints four new censors

The RCP has appointed four new censors.

Dr Ruth Law, Dr Rajaratnam Mathialagan, Professor Tom Solomon and Dr Jo Sykes have been appointed as new RCP censors. They will take up post on 1 August 2022 and serve for 3 years.

The office of censor is a senior and ancient one going back to the origins of the RCP and Royal Charter of Henry VIII. At any time, there are at least four censors (as well as the education and training vice president, who is also known as the senior censor), and their role has always been concerned with the examination, maintaining standards and education.

Due to the broad responsibilities of the censors and an increase in volume in some of these areas the RCP Council has agreed to increase the number of posts from 6 to 8 plus the senior censor. The strong field in the recent censors recruitment round has allowed an increased number of appointments to be made this year.

The RCP’s new censors:

Dr Ruth Law is a consultant physician in integrated geriatric medicine and general internal medicine at Whittington Health NHS Trust in London where she is clinical lead. Within her department she has set up the nationally renowned Integrated Community Ageing Team (ICAT) which delivers comprehensive geriatric assessment to care home residents and housebound older people. She has presented widely on this topic and contributed to NHS England stakeholder work around care homes. Her work resulted in her being awarded the British Geriatrics Society ‘Rising star award’ for quality in 2018. She is currently deputy honorary secretary of the British Geriatrics Society.

She was selected to join the first cohort of the RCP’s Emerging Women Leaders Programme and elected to RCP Council in 2019. She also contributes widely to postgraduate education; she has been a question writer for the specialty certificate examination (SCE) in geriatric medicine since 2017, she is also a PACES examiner and was a training programme director within her trust. She is passionate about integrated multidisciplinary working and interdisciplinary learning to deliver person-centred care for frail older people.

Dr Rajaratnam Mathialagan graduated from Jaffna Medical Faculty in 1986. He then travelled to the UK for postgraduate medical training and was a research fellow at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital.

He completed his specialist registrar training in gastroenterology and general internal medicine at Oxford Deanery. Since 2000, he has been a consultant physician and gastroenterologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk.

He is very passionate about medical education and has been actively involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and training over the past 20 years in a variety of roles, including as clinical sub-dean for the University of Cambridge, undergraduate student lead for Norwich Medical School and director of medical education and training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. He is also heavily involved in all aspects of the MRCP(UK) PACES exam, regularly hosting exams, examining both within the UK and overseas, and as a panel member of the Chairs of Examiners.

Professor Tom Solomon is director of The Pandemic Institute, vice president (international) of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, and chair of neurological science at the University of Liverpool and the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust. After qualifying in medicine at Oxford, his research training included 3 years at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, and 2 years at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA. He works on emerging pathogens, particularly those that affect the brain, heading the multidisciplinary Liverpool Brain Infections Group. His group works to reduce the UK and global burden of emerging neurological infections in adults and children, with major programmes on herpes viruses, arthropod-borne viruses and COVID-19. He was an RCP Council member from 2019–2022 and was appointed to the role of censor in 2022. He gave the RCP Linacre lecture in 2006, the RCPE Sydney Watson Smith lecture in 2012 and was awarded the RCP Moxon Medal in 2014.­ He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2021.

Tom is a keen teacher, leading the annual Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases course, and an enthusiastic science communicator; his popular science book Roald Dahl’s marvellous medicine was published in 2016, and followed by a sell-out show of the same name at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017. He won a Guinness World Record in 2010 for the fastest marathon dressed as a doctor, and another in 2014 for his sci-art project The world’s biggest brain. Tom also hosts the Scouse Science Podcast.

Dr Jo Sykes is a consultant in palliative medicine at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Rowcroft Hospice in Devon. She is the trust’s medical appraisal lead and an honorary university fellow at Plymouth University Medical School.

Jo completed her undergraduate studies at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in 1987. She undertook palliative medicine specialty training in London, Sydney and Bristol.

Across her career Jo has been clinical director for the South Devon Specialist Palliative Care Service, training programme director and regional specialty advisor for the south of South West England, head of specialty training for Severn and Peninsula Deaneries and a member of the Palliative Medicine Specialty Advisory Committee at the RCP. She has been an MRCP(UK) examiner and PACES host since 2009.

Her areas of special interest, in addition to undergraduate and postgraduate education, are provision of hospital-based specialist palliative care, palliative care for non-malignant conditions, and senior doctor career development and wellbeing.

Three censors will demit at the end of July and thanks are due to Dr Jyoti Baharani, Professor Rudolf Bilous and Dr Rasha Mukhtar as they approach the end of their terms.