Present situation is detrimental to patient care

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7019.1574a (Published 09 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1574
  1. Olivia Williams,
  2. Paul Spiers
  1. Consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care Consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care Leicester General Hospital NHS Trust, Leicester LE4 5PW

    EDITOR,--In their recent postal survey of a representative group of consultant physicians, Hugh Mather and Robert Elkeles identified widespread opposition to the Calman proposals.1 Sadly, 70% or more of respondents admitted to not having recent experience in performing three essential lifesaving procedures and, more disturbingly, 47% of these were unwilling to relearn these skills. This implies that they would have limited ability to teach these procedures to their trainees.

    As practitioners in acute specialties, these consultant physicians are presumably responsible for the care of sick patients and the education of their trainees. Most of the respondents (70%) work at district general hospitals and are now presumably buffered from their patients by fewer tiers of trainee staff. If it is accepted that doctors caring for seriously ill patients should be capable of resuscitating them, it is a shame that most of the respondents admit their inability to perform basic lifesaving techniques.

    This sorry state of affairs can only be detrimental to patient care, regardless of whether consultants are prepared to return to residential emergency duties and take on responsibility for the education of their successors. Implementation of the Calman proposals, together with the recognition of the requirement for continuing medical education (which should include training in practical skills) must be accepted to improve patient care. Rather than adopting a negative attitude, consultant physicians should support these advances and fight to achieve the necessary expansion in resources.


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