Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ian, Laurence, Steve, and Mick: It’s only Rock and Roll but I Like It!


It was back to work last week, and a full-on week it was too. Monday and Tuesday were consumed with playing email catch up and back to back meetings. Much of Wednesday was spent with Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England. It was a wonderful opportunity for the School to not only showcase our achievements, but perhaps more importantly, to engage in debate over the strategic intentions of the body in the UK that spends nearly £5 billion a year on education and training for health care professionals. 

Ian’s boyish looks belie a highly intelligent and creative man, able to communicate his message with humour and evidence, a somewhat rare ability. Ian started his career as a Biomedical Scientist before moving into more general management in the NHS towards the late 1980’s. When he got his first Chief Executive post in 1995, he was the youngest ever Chief Executive in the NHS.

It was good to discover that as a School we were already addressing half of the HEEs 11 strategic priorities. The other half represented areas completely beyond our collective experience yet were exciting and challenging. None more so than what the HEE were planning around genomics. Coincidently Thursday saw me in London for a Council of Deans meeting, held at Woburn House, just a stone’s throw from the British Medical Association headquarters in London. Last week it was their Annual Representative Meeting, and the impact of genomics on the health care  of the future was discussed. 

There did seem to be other equally important issues discussed however - it appears some hospitals have had the audacity to remove the junior doctors mess facilities. Anyone who has ever endured living through their children’s ‘terrible teens’ will know what the word ‘mess’ really means – bedrooms where dirty washing is stored alongside clean washing (usually on the floor), a proliferation of bacterial cultures cunningly disguised as empty pizza boxes, and an abundance of used coffee mugs which pose a serious biological warfare threat to the human race. Well that adequately describes the average junior doctor’s mess too!

Sadly, this year’s Annual Representative Meeting also saw the retirement of Dr Laurence Buckman – definitely one of the good guys. He was the GP Committee Chairman. Always forthright, but fair in his observations of the NHS, I found him someone who was not afraid to speak his mind over the sometimes ludicrous demands placed upon practitioners by uninformed political manikins. Last week, he talked about the continuous governmental oppressive box-ticking, micromanagement and imposed changes that are often not based upon clinical evidence or in some cases, have no basis in reality, like the imposed taking of blood pressure of healthy people in their 30's

Now for me, being 30 is a bit of a distant memory, but my blood pressure was raised on Friday night watching Seasick Steve perform at Glastonbury 2013 – absolutely fantastic. It was raised further as a full 24 hours had to pass before the greatest rock band in the world took to the stage, the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger famously said he couldn't imagine himself prancing around on stage singing Satisfaction when he was aged 30 years old. Last night 3 weeks, 6 days and 15 minutes short of his 70th birthday he sang Satisfaction as the final song of what was a great set. The Rolling Stones performance was sublime, they were every inch the band that all others are measured against. I know it was only rock and roll, but I liked it!