Medicopolitical Digest

From the medical academic conferenceSpecialist registrar grade is causing problemsDisincentives to an academic career spelt outLabour party's plans for student financeThe conference ..From the public health conferenceYoung people need a better dealPossession of private handguns opposedContinuing education must be properly resourcedGeneral practice could be underminedThe conference..From the senior staffs conferenceProposal for a closed contract defeatedNon-consultant career grades need a better dealPrivate finance initiative deploredIntensive care needs adequate staffingThere must be local manpower adviceThe conference ..

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 15 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1543
  1. Linda Beecham

    From the medical academic conference

    Academic doctors warn of continuing crisis

    Medical academic staff have warned of the danger to patient care of the continued underfunding in the NHS and the universities. At the conference of medical academic representatives last week the chairman of the BMA's Medical Academic Staff Committee, Dr Colin Smith, attacked the Department for Education's view that there was no correlation between funding levels and the quality of doctors produced. “Poorer resources mean poorer products, poorer research, poorer teaching, and poorer doctors.” There was now an acknowledgment that there was a crisis and the BMA would be giving evidence to the Dearing review on higher education and the Richards inquiry into disincentives to careers in academic medicine.

    The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals highlighted the crisis at a national press conference, pointing out that any further reduction would mean fewer staff, poorer undergraduate teaching, less research, fewer academics working in the NHS, and a greater workload for those remaining.

    Despite the increasing pressure to do more and more research, there were fewer funds and grants—nearly three quarters of alpha rated grant applications were not funded. Dr Smith called it a tragedy that the Medical Research Council would no longer fund intercalated BSc degrees. So medical academic staff faced a “triple whammy”— reduced research funding, reduced teaching funding, and reduced clinical funding. “There is pain,” Dr Smith concluded, “and it will get worse.”

    Specialist registrar grade is causing problems

    The conference was able to quiz a health department official on its worries over the introduction of the specialist registrar grade, which will replace the existing registrar and senior registrar grades. The chairman of the MASC told the meeting that his committee believed that it was a good idea to rationalise training, but because of the dual role of the NHS and the university it was not possible, in many instances, to fit clinical academic …

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