Got a story? What’s your postcode? And do you have anything to say about the Pope?

There are numerous standards which local hospitals in the United Kingdom have to adhere to, for example to perform well in the “Annual Health  Check”, run by the Healthcare Commission. This sets the standards for the hospital practice across a number of domains. What about the trainees in these hospitals? Whilst Medical Educator has little formal experience of  funding practices in the US, and other parts of Europe, here in Britain 2 things are clear.

Firstly hospitals are recieving large amounts of funding fro the training and education of medical students, including assessment, evaluation and preperation for their medical exams, OSCEs and revision papers.

Secondly hospitals are under increasing pressure to achieve relevant targets such as the “4 hour wait”.

So far so good. Information about how good local services are being put to good use. Check out the influential BBC’s health website, touting the following postcode search for local services. Surely no bad thing?

The BBC's link to the Care Quality Commission website which will allow you to search local services by postcode

What isn’t clear is the priority that issues such as continuing medical education, medical student training and the quality of these activities will have under these increasingly pressured environments. More importantly is this data actually reliable? Is it validated by independent inspectors, patients, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, managers and secretaries who work in these institutions? Is there pressure to perform well under the spotlight of the media, as recent accusations of certain English hospitals have recently suggested?

What about the medical press. Are they immune to this new phenomenon of the information age. What is an impact factor anyway? It could be considered that in this regard, being under the media spotlight isn’t so much of a problem is you’re a medical journal as the Lancet found out this month, accusing the religious leader of ‘distorting condom science’. The Lancet’s editorial has cited that Pope Benedict the XVI has made an

…outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS

The Lancer 373 Issue 9669

The Lancet editorial certainly does seem to have a point, so what do these 2 seemingly unlinked topics have in common?

The increasing pressure of organisations to be accountable for their profiles in their own communities, be it local Health Authorities or the Medical Literature is plain to see. A quick Google search of Lancet pope reveals >270,000 results. Is there an ulterior motive to some of this reporting? Or simply action taken in the public interest. Has the Lancet reported on any other religious leaders / other religions and their attitudes to certain practices? The counter argument is that this is a vital public health issue, and one that seemingly should be above an individual / organisations own goals or ideals.

Certainly the information age is one of the main driving forces behind the actions taken by individuals, authorities, journals, and other healthcare organisations. Just as long as we all know where we’re going, and that the informaiton itself isn’t up for manipulation…The verdict from the action of the Lancet is that we largely applaud their stance, are they casting sufficient scrutiny on other religious practices? WIth regards the Healthcare Commission, time will tell.

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