Tom Dening is a Professor of Dementia Research at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham.
Spring in Nottingham! What could be finer? Little spring flowers bursting out all over University Park, Nottingham Forest on the verge of play-off contention, the ice floes beginning to break up on the Trent, students shedding their furry parkas and starting to sit on the grass….
And what better way to spend your time than to check into to the East Midlands Conference Centre at the end of April for the BGS Spring Meeting? Even better, stay at the eco-friendly Orchard Hotel next door and barely have to move for 3 days. The programme has been finalised, and booking is in full swing! I’ve even forgiven them for spelling my name wrong in the advertising booklet.
I have been (peripherally) involved in the organisation of this event, which has been led by my colleague Rowan Harwood form Nottingham and the BGS events team; it’s the first time I have worked with the BGS on something of this kind. The planning for the event started about 2 years ago, so clearly a lot of time and thought has gone into the final agenda. The programme has got something for everyone and most people will probably be interested in quite a lot of the sessions. I’m of course pleased to see that there’s a whole day for the Dementia Special Interest Group but also a session on the first morning of the main conference about aggression, with three top class psychiatrists/psychologists.
My own contribution is to co-facilitate a workshop on The Geriatrician as Manager, with Stephen Fowlie, who is the Medical Director of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. He’s the real deal, being a current MD (as opposed to being an ex, in my case) and a real geriatrician (as opposed to a psycho-, as in my case). Why have we suggested this session, and what relevance has it alongside topics like falls, respiratory disease, infections and so on?
Everyone probably has their own thoughts on doctors and management, but in many ways management and clinical medicine are inseparable. In almost every case, it’s not just us doctors dealing with individual patients and their families. There are hosts of other people, especially in the typical geriatric medicine scenario of multiple complex morbidity, where the outcomes are damage limitation or end of life care, rather than cure and restitution of full function. Some of these others are members of your own clinical team, but many of them are not. They include the support staff in the hospital, for example cleaners, caterers and porters, but also (obviously indirectly!) the finance team and ultimately the Trust Board. These latter folk help to determine the success of the hospital, dealing with commissioners, regulators, the media and the public, and these things in turn influence what your hospital is like to work in.
The job of the doctor starts with assessing and treating patients as they are admitted, and extends beyond this into the relationship that they have with their clinical team. But it goes further: what we do at the coal face gets translated into the data supplying both the people who buy our services (commissioners) and those who oversee them (regulators, the CQC in particular). There is no clear cut-off point dividing our clinical activity and these other processes. Some doctors relish the complexity and the challenge of dealing with hospital systems: they may for example show an aptitude for the politics, or they may see engaging with management tasks as a potent way to get things done. It is this area that Stephen and I will be looking to explore in our workshop, and we look forward to meeting you in Nottingham
Photo credit: 3dpete via flickr.