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Lament for missing an A award

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 16 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1497
  1. Adrian Padfield, retired consultant anaesthetist
  1. Sheffield

    I used to support the merit award system because I believed that, despite its flaws, it encouraged people to stretch themselves beyond their daily chores. From doubting its fairness for myself, I realised my specialty had a poor share of awards and this has been true for at least 35 years.

    In the dozen years since a medical chairman of the Advisory Committee for Distinction Awards tried to channel more awards towards service specialties, there has been little increase in the number of awards for anaesthetists, pathologists, or radiologists. Compared with local colleagues in other specialties and other anaesthetists elsewhere I think that I deserved an A award, but I never received one.

    I first heard of merit awards soon after I became a senior house officer in the early 1960s. A surgical registrar engaged me in conversation over the blood-brain barrier. He asked me why I had taken up anaesthesia, and then he said: “Anaesthetists are sucking on the hind tit as far as merit awards are concerned, but they're either young or ex-general practitioners.”

    It was worrying that …

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