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Medicopolitical Digest

Medicopolitical digestMedical academic staffs conferenceBMA criticises report on prescribingHealth bodies could improve financial managementAction needed to help demoralised consultants

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 26 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1768

Medical academic staffs conference

Chairman warns of threats to academic medicine

“Unless there is a dramatic change in the way we recruit and retain people there will be no future for academic medicine,” Dr Colin Smith warned the BMA's medical academic staffs conference last week.

Dr Smith, a senior lecturer in medicine at the University of Southampton, and chairman of the Medical Academic Staff Committee (MASC), reported that five chairs in general surgery and seven chairs in ear, nose, and throat surgery and in orthopaedics were empty. The number of staff funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England was down and the number in training posts was at the lowest for a long time. “ How are we to recruit to academic practice when the NHS is so much more secure and what is the role for academic surgery if we cannot recruit young people to it?” he asked.

Not surprisingly, the first two motions picked up this theme, demanding that the BMA took urgent action to draw attention to the increasingly apparent threats to academic medicine and calling on the BMA to take a lead in developing careers advice for medical students and new doctors.

Research assessment exercise still causes concern

Dr Smith told the meeting that the arrangements for the next research assessment exercise had been published and it had been recognised that many medical disciplines needed a change in the evaluation process. His committee was concerned that the assessment panels seemed to be setting their own criteria and believed that the NHS should be represented on the panels.

Later the conference resolved that the exercise was divisive and discriminatory and called on the BMA to examine its impact on the clinical commitments of medical academics and the distortion of research priorities.

The Quality Assurance Agency was formed in 1997 and brought together the functions formerly carried out by the Higher Education Quality …

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