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Trainee competition | cost of living | SWAN clinics

In this month’s blog, Dr Olwen Williams calls on trainees to enter the RCP’s poster competition, invites colleagues in north Wales to join us for a catch up in June, and looks forward spending time in the garden this summer.

May is ‘planting out’ time. The seeds sown earlier in the year are now healthy plants and will provide our household with a supply of vegetables and salad leaves. The greenhouse is full of tomato, chilli and pepper plants and I am privileged to have both the time and the land to grow my own food.

Yet over half of people in Britain (55%) feel their health has been negatively affected by the rising cost of living, according to a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the RCP. As clinicians, we should anticipate the impact of this on the psychological and physical wellbeing of the individuals we see. In collaboration with more than 30 other organisations, RCP Cymru Wales is leading a campaign to encourage the Welsh government to establish a cross-government delivery plan to tackle health inequalities. Recently, I met with Iain Bell – national director for public health knowledge and research at Public Health Wales – to discuss the information we should be collecting to give clinicians an in-depth understanding of the statistics behind social determinants of health and disease. In June we will be publishing a new report in collaboration with the Welsh NHS Confederation which will examine the barriers to change and how we can tackle ill-health and improve wellbeing in Wales.

Trainees, it’s time to think about updating your CV!

One of my favourite times of year is approaching: the annual trainee RCP poster competition. Every summer, we receive a whole raft of exciting submissions, detailing projects on education, quality improvement, audit, research and many other areas of work. I am always so proud to read of the work being led by our doctors in training across Wales and I urge you to strongly encourage your trainees to send us their abstracts. All posters are considered by the RCP journal editorial teams for inclusion in a peer-reviewed journal: a fantastic way to boost portfolios.

One of last year’s highly commended entries from Wales, ‘Face time’ for the first time – video communication between relatives and junior doctors in the COVID-19 pandemic was published in Clinical Medicine. Others have been used as case studies in major RCP reports, including Recover, rebuild, renew (pages 12–13). Find out more about the competition here.

Fancy a coffee?

On Friday 10 June, the RCP Cymru Wales team will visit Ysbyty Glan Clwyd (YGC) for a hybrid Cyswllt RCP Connect local conversation event between 12.30–2pm. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this! This free face-to-face lunchtime session is open to all trainees, SAS doctors, physician associates and consultant physicians across north Wales, with a variety of speakers and opportunities to network. The event will be hosted in person by the YGC postgraduate centre, with a link to join via MS Teams for those who cannot be on site. To receive an agenda and book your space, please contact Lowri Jackson.

The Welsh workforce of the future

It will be no surprise to you that I am still concerned about the current and future medical workforce. A bleak statistic from the recent RCP census found that more than half of UK consultant physician posts went unfilled in 2021, with even worse rates in Wales. While I’m delighted that a real expansion in medical school places in Wales is planned, it takes around 15 years to become a consultant, so there are real challenges ahead. Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) is organising stakeholder engagement events across Wales on the implementation of their 10-year workforce strategy. Contact HEIW for more information.

A trip to Portmeirion

I recently spent a very enjoyable and educational 24 hours at the Society of Physicians in Wales meeting in Portmeirion. The theme of the meeting was ‘The future of …’ and it was Dr Jon Goodfellow’s last duty as the outgoing chair to announce plans to elect a new chair. We wish Jon all the best and we look forward to working with his successor.

Thinking green

Climate change and environmental sustainability will become increasingly important in the coming months, both in the NHS and at the RCP. Council has now agreed to establish a new RCP committee on climate change to lead strategic thinking in this area, and at Portmeirion, Dr Simon Barry, national clinical lead for respiratory medicine, asked us to complete the survey on prescribing ventolin evohaler and salbutamol MDI. We all need to be mindful of our carbon footprint, both at work and at home. On that note, you may be interested to hear that registration is now open for this year's free, virtual Green Health Wales conference. Book your space here.

Pilot diabetes care accreditation programme kicks off in Wales

The new RCP Diabetes Care Accreditation Programme (DCAP) has now launched with pilots in the east of England and Wales, supporting adult inpatient diabetes services. Congratulations to those Welsh hospital sites which are involved. I look forward to seeing your progress.

Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) notices

The Welsh government has asked us to alert you to concerns about a decision that was made to issue a DNACPR notice for an individual on the basis of a learning disability (an individual with Down’s syndrome who had been admitted to a Welsh hospital for a respiratory condition). Age, disability or long-term condition should never be a sole reason for issuing a DNACPR order and these decisions should always be taken in line with clinical guidance. Please read more information.

Initial antimicrobial treatment of sepsis

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges recently launched a new statement on the initial antimicrobial treatment of sepsis. As we all know, sepsis still kills far too many people each year and guidelines that can enhance the initial treatment of sepsis – enabling its management and treatment in a more standardised and evidence-based way – are extremely valuable and important.

Good medical practice

The General Medical Council (GMC) is consulting on an updated version of Good medical practice until 20 July 2022. These are the standards of professional behaviour and patient care expected from all doctors in the UK. I’d encourage all of you to take part in the survey, from trainees to SAS doctors to consultants; the principles and values of Good medical practice are at the core of UK medical education and training, so your insight is important.

And finally …

… my gardening hasn’t been without incident! I have recently acquired a brand-new springer spaniel puppy, whose favourite trick is to run off with plant pots – yes, he often steals the ones with transplanted seedlings! Joy!

Enjoy the warmer days of late spring. Stay safe.

Dr Olwen Williams
RCP vice president for Wales.
Consultant in sexual health and HIV medicine.

This month’s guest blog comes from Dr Jamie Duckers, a consultant in cystic fibrosis and respiratory medicine at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Here, he discusses recent Welsh government investment in ‘syndrome without a name’ (SWAN) clinics.