Bulletin 119, January 2020

From the Editor, Dr David Bogod

Welcome to the January issue of the College Bulletin

Editing the Bulletin is an honour and a pleasure, but sometimes the long lead-in time between submission and publication can be frustrating, and never more so than in relation to our lead article, by Dr du Plessis and Professor Pandit, on the impact of the pensions crisis arising from the legislation on the tapered annual allowance. As I write this comment at the tail-end of November, I really have no idea what the pensions picture will be when you, gentle reader, eagerly open this issue. Will trusts have taken up the added tax burden?  Will variable contributions from PAYE have mitigated the risk? Will a Conservative Government have kept their promise to compensate doctors on retirement for huge tax bills incurred when taking on extra sessions? Will we have a Conservative Government? Will we have a Government? As the writers point out, Jaideep Pandit accurately predicted all this way back in 2016, and I only wish I had access to his crystal ball.

We could all do with a little more love, frankly, and so I must commend Oliver Boney’s article. An ST7 from London, Oliver urges us to undertake ‘small acts of kindness’ to our colleagues and our patients and points out that simply being nice is one of the best ways to improve morale and reduce stress and burnout.  It is a message that is worth emphasising. I often end a talk on litigation with the anecdotal observation that, all else being equal, nice doctors are less likely to run into medicolegal problems than nasty doctors.  More recently, and less cynically perhaps, I have discovered that one of the great secrets to a happy work environment is simple – Malteser tiffin. Found on the BBC Good Food website, it takes 20 minutes to make, even for a total cooking duffer like me. Refrigerate overnight, cut up into small squares and deposit in coffee room with a little note. The effect, especially on a busy maternity unit, is not unlike one of those shark feeding frenzies you see on wildlife programmes, and suddenly everyone loves you. A word of warning: DO NOT, under any circumstances, look at the site which comes up when you google ‘Maltester tiffin calories’. 

‘Keeping midwives happy’ is not one of the non-technical skills that Professor William Harrop-Griffiths considers in his latest Soapbox article on obstetric anaesthetists, but it probably should be. Members of the OAA should watch their blood pressures while taking a pinch of salt (mutually exclusive?) when reading his firmly tongue-in-cheek article. I’m hoping that he’ll have a crack at the difficult airway brigade next, so watch this space.

Finally, in this issue, we say goodbye to two long-standing members of the Lay Committee, Elspeth Evans and Stuart Burgess. They have been advising the College for six years, and their wisdom, good sense and humour will be greatly missed. The Lay Committee work hard for the membership and our patients, often behind the scenes, and members are encouraged to find out more about their role by visiting their page on the website.

Happy 2020 to all our readers!