One of the most important aspects of the School of Clinical Medicine is its partnership with NHS organisations. In fact the Clinical School’s remarkable success since its formation in 1976 is largely due to the strength of these local partnerships. Two particularly important organisations to us are Cambridge University Hospitals (Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie) and the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (which is the local mental health trust). Unless you have spent the last couple of years on another planet you will certainly be aware that these are exciting times in the NHS. Among other challenges there is an ever higher demand and public expectation of what could or should be provided, a limited amount of money and a very complex system of targets. At its best it delivers fantastic care. On a bad day it can seem as if we have created something of a monster which combines the problems of a massive, monolithic and inflexible organisation with extraordinary fragmentation. Of course one of the things about challenging times is they also create exciting opportunities. Some time ago the local Clinical Commissioning Group which commissions services for about a million people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough invited bids for a new approach to looking after older people. In effect this launched a tender process for much of the work that is currently done by CUH and CPFT. The process has been complex, but I’m delighted to say that a partnership led by CUH and CPFT which is called the Uniting Care Partnership has been selected as the preferred bidder. The success of the bid is testament to an enormous amount of hard work and putting together an exciting vision of how we can look after older people better than we do at present.
In my last newsletter I mentioned that I had welcomed the new cohort of students to the Clinical Course (Year 4) at the Clinical School. On Wednesday I welcomed the 2014 intake of pre-clinical students (Year 1). This is a special cohort because they are the first intake of students who will all have the opportunity to do their clinical course in Cambridge. In line with this, rather than doing the welcome from the Clinical School in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, we asked them all to come up here for an excellent afternoon in the William Harvey Lecture Theatre. This was led by Diana Wood and her team. When I welcomed them I particularly emphasised the extraordinary scientific environment and opportunities in Cambridge and urged them to make the most of these. For this cohort we are keen to expose them to inspiring clinical science throughout their six years. Volunteers to be involved in this will be very welcome!
Within the Clinical School, the School Heads of the Departments and Institutes play a really important role. A striking feature of the School is that we benefit from outstanding individuals in these positions who promote a very strong collaborative ethos. I am delighted that the General Board has appointed Professor Ed Bullmore as Head of the Department of Psychiatry with effect from 9th October. I meet with Heads of Department on a one to one basis every so often. In my recent meeting with Gordon Smith who is Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology I very much enjoyed hearing about his recent appearance on Panorama in which he was described as the “The Champion of the Establishment”. This is because Gordon was taking a rigorous view as to whether new potential approaches to preventing stillbirth were as revolutionary as claimed. For those of you who haven’t met Gordon I can’t think of a less likely champion of the establishment, but I do think he is a very good champion for rigorous clinical science!