• The College crest over the entrance to College Hall

    The College crest over the entrance to College Hall

  • First address to the College at the AGM in 2015

    First address to the College at the AGM in 2015

  • Main entrance to the College

    Main entrance to the College

Holes in the safety net: can peer review be trusted?

I sometimes re-read the account of New York physicist Alan D Sokal’s famous spoof article to bring a sense of reality to the hyped realm of published scientific evidence.Admittedly in that case, some 20 years ago this year, it was centred less on peer review and more on an appeal to editorial ideology but it is a salutary read in any case.Sokal was so irritated by the tendency for certain journals to be less than rigorous in approving articles for publication that he decided to test his theory by submitting an article which was completely fabricated...

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Fundamental flaws in the evidence base

A really important question for evidence based medicine is ‘How reliable are the conclusions drawn from research projects?’ As an enterprise, and not just in medicine, there is a somewhat jaundiced view of scientific endeavour that made me stop and take stock.We have been taken hostage by the notion that an evidence base is the only rational way in which we can draw conclusions to advance our understanding and answer the intriguing questions that we face.The recurring concern was articulated again in the Spectator last month and an editor of the Lancet was quoted as indicating that ‘much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.’ Such a bold claim surely requires a secure evidence base to stand...

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No room for complacency

In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine along with Ernst Chain and Sir Howard Florey “for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases”.

It was uncanny that Fleming recognised and predicted the very danger which now besets clinical practice – the problem of antibiotic resistance. As early as two years after the initial widespread distribution of penicillin, evidence of antibiotic resistance was noticed...

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Manoeuvring for position

The College has been involved in an unusually intense period of activity over the last few months.

I am really delighted to have successfully steered the College through the recruitment process leading to the recent appointment of our new CEO.Dr Steve Graham (pictured) started with us at the beginning of October and brings with him a wealth of management skills and experience gained over 25 years at board level, in both the private and public sectors...

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Five ferries

The weather forecast was ominous as seventeen intrepid College representatives set out to take on the famous five ferries challenge.The ferry trips were easy – it was the cycle transit from slipway to slipway that presented the problems.I had managed some preparation – I suspect that one never really does enough preparation for an event like this...

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Surgery in the raw

This time of year presents many people with the chance to have some vacation time and recharge.However, during the summer while some have been away, the work of the College continues apace.

Since May I have had two personal trips abroad, one to examine in the undergraduate finals in the University of Malta Medical School where an old friend and ex Glasgow trainee, Professor Godfrey LaFerla is Dean...

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Care and compassion in troubled times

I cannot remember a time when there has been so much momentous change and so many disheartening and tragic events, one following another in quick succession.

With major political parties in the UK challenging and changing their leadership, we now find ourselves with a new Prime Minister, essentially a new cabinet and the threat of ongoing disquiet in the months ahead as the UK is extracted from membership of the European Union.

Meanwhile, I am sure, like me, you struggle to understand the thinking behind yet another outrageous and senseless terrorist attack in France...

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Widening our international outlook post-Brexit

A week has passed since the British people made a decision to leave the European Union.Democracy has been served, the question has been answered and the country has been divided.

Whether you like the outcome or not is now of less importance than making sensible decisions as we navigate into the next few years and the UK is disentangled from the complexity of various European inter-relationships...

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Connection, care, compassion, communication

I was delighted to attend my first Admission Ceremony as President of our College recently.  This event is a wonderful, colourful and enjoyable occasion, and an opportunity for new Fellows and Members and their families to celebrate their achievements.

As President, I have the pleasure of addressing everyone in attendance at the ceremony but I am also well aware that not everyone is able to make the journey to Glasgow for the celebratory occasion.  My message to those attending the ceremony is relevant to all of you – old, new and current members – as the principles of excellence that we strive to represent and deliver are consistent across our multidisciplinary professions.  An edited transcript of my address is provided here. Scroll down to the end for a selection of photographs from the day...

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Adapting to a changing workforce

I well remember the reaction of a group of senior College examiners as they realised they were being asked to participate in a one day “Equality and Diversity Training Course.” Despite the predictable murmuring at the prospect, all undeniably recognised the importance of the content of the course.Treating people with respect is the central principle of clinical practice and it is helpful to identify circumstances which can lead to inadvertent discrimination before mistakes are made – even unwittingly.

The gender balance in modern clinical practice, and hospital medicine in particular, has changed in the past decade...

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