The President Writes
College President Mr Michael Lavelle-Jones provides his regular update on College activities
"While the term 'junior doctor' and 'trainee' might be factually accurate, they are somewhat pejorative and probably don't instil a huge amount of confidence in patients"
The junior doctors voted to reject the new contract, which now looks set to be imposed by government.
Stepping aside from the result, this long running and bitter dispute has awakened a long-held view of mine about the appropriateness of the terms ‘junior doctor’ and ‘trainee’, when you consider they encompass all those in training from the moment they leave medical school to a point in time some 10 years later when they embark on their first positions in independent practice. While both terms might be factually accurate, they are somewhat pejorative and probably don’t instil a huge amount of confidence in our patients.
I am quite comfortable being flown across the Atlantic by a First Officer – who is, after all, a pilot in training – but I wonder how I might feel if they were referred to as a trainee in the pre-flight preamble. Matters can have been made only worse by the widespread use of the terms in the media during the dispute and I wonder if the time has come to reconsider their designation, taking into account levels in training and professional responsibilities. By no means do I suggest that we return to the SHO/Registrar/Senior Registrar descriptors that accompanied my progress up the training ladder, but now would be a good time to consider other options. At the ASiT session at the ASGBI meeting in Belfast, there was a groundswell of approval in the audience for such a proposal. Perhaps we should ask our trainees to take the lead on this.
"It will take a lot more than a government-commissioned review of long-standing junior doctors’ concerns to heal these wounds; that was the clear message from trainees at this year’s ASiT conference."
Our College never seems to stand still. On 3 March, we launched the Faculty of Perioperative Care, the culmination of 18 months’ hard work under the careful stewardship of Council Member and Faculty lead Charles Auld. The new Faculty, with its focus on surgical care practitioners, surgical first assistants and all healthcare staff with similar roles, builds on the success of our joint meeting with the Association for Perioperative Practice, held in Birmingham last October. This collaborative event identified the need for educational and professional support for perioperative practitioners, who have a pivotal role in the surgical team. Establishing this Faculty provides clear recognition that we, as surgeons, cannot deliver the service alone. The Faculty will stand alongside our existing four Faculties – Dental Surgery, Pre-hospital Care, Sports and Exercise Medicine, and Surgical Trainers – and is a reminder of the inclusive nature of our College, embracing all aspects of surgical and dental care. I would urge you to help spread the word by telling your wider surgical team about our new Faculty.
"All of us who practise in the devolved nations have a duty to support and protect the NHS."
What a difference a day makes. I think it is true to say that my life has not been the same since I received the call telling me the outcome of the ballot for the presidency. This election differed from those held in previous years in that candidates were subject to a hustings and had the opportunity to present their manifesto for the next three years. This was followed by a fairly robust Q&A session. At times it was challenging to be on the receiving end of the questions, but I would like to think it helped our Council towards an informed decision. I have no doubt that, in some form or another, a hustings will be part of the electoral process for presidents of the future.