13. WHY TEACHING AND RESEARCH MATTERS

When people debate the future for acute hospital services they tend to focus on what it means for their local access. Sometimes they recognise that it’s also very much about improving and assuring the quality of care and the results of treatment. What gets less attention are the related fields of teaching and research, and how they relate to high quality patient care.

Glasgow is unusual among UK cities in having education and training for all the healthcare professions. Medicine, dentistry and some nursing at Glasgow University. Pharmacy at Strathclyde University. Nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, radiography, and other professions supplementary to medicine at Glasgow Caledonian University. Our acute hospitals provide valuable working experience for students and research opportunities for students and staff. The Universities, in turn, provide the professional workforce our hospitals need. Many NHS professional staff are involved in teaching and training students.

Good education and training depends on inspirational educational leadership, high standards in curriculum design and good planning and organisation of both students’ and teachers’ time. A place’s reputation for education and training usually results in it attracting the most talented students and good teachers. The University of Glasgow’s new curriculum for the teaching and training of doctors has earned widespread praise as an approach to adopting principles proposed by the General Medical Council in 1993.

Since our proposals involve creating larger specialist teams, strengthened staffing on wards and much better designed facilities in which services are used by patients they will provide a much better environment in which education and training takes place. It will be easier to programme good quality time for teaching students and providing them with the best possible experience of patient care from which they can learn.

This applies not only to undergraduate students but also to those pursuing further education and training following their basic qualification. In the case of junior doctors – those training to become GPs and specialists – the question of quality of training is tied up with two knotty and long-standing problems – the excessive working hours of junior doctors and the long history of them being used as frontline "service workers" rather than treated as trainees needing a well-designed programme of supported learning. Our proposals aim to tackle these problems. A fuller explanation is given in our leaflet "Impact of Regulations on Doctors’ Working Hours".

Providing a much stronger platform for research in Glasgow is another major benefit of our proposals. The advance of science and technology will result in major gains in the diagnosis and treatment of illness. The entire human genetic make-up will soon be discovered and will make a major difference here. Today’s research leads to tomorrow’s routine practice. But these advances are not something that happen "somewhere else". Glasgow’s universities and its health care professionals have a strong history of excellence in research.

The stronger the city’s performance in research, the more the benefits will flow. Not just in earning research income and creating research jobs in the city, but in attracting international class scientists and health care professionals here. Their enthusiasm and commitment to learning has spin offs in encouraging talented local colleagues to remain here and in stimulating best state-of-the-art practice in our local health services.

Our proposals, by creating larger clinical teams, will provide a fuller range of specialist interests, more strength in depth, a higher likelihood of colleagues sparking off fresh ideas between each other and a more extensive platform of systematic comparison of results in developing improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

Similarly the suggestion of relocating child and maternal services from the Yorkhill campus to the Southern General site will open up new links with a wider range of clinical colleagues from specialties such as neurosciences. Many adult diseases have their origins in early life and the strengthened University presence on the Southern General site would add to Glasgow’s international track record in research into ‘early origins’.

Glasgow University has great strengths in biological and basic life sciences, and Strathclyde University’s expertise in sciences related to medicines and applied bio-technologies is already leading to collaboration between the two Universities. The Medical School research themes in cancer, heart disease, neurosciences, infection and immunity and developmental medicine will all be helped by our proposals to strengthen the health care services to which they relate. We are working with Glasgow University to ensure that our plans to strengthen services are linked well to their own plans to improve research facilities and laboratories.

It is also worth remembering that for every doctor in our acute hospitals there will be approximately five other members of healthcare team. These nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others are doing work which is influenced by the findings of research. Glasgow Caledonian University hosts Scotland’s Nursing Research Initiative and is also one of the only two World Health Organisation collaborating centres for nursing research in the UK.

Our proposals to create stronger clinical teams will provide more encouragement for these other members of the team to play their part in influencing the development of good practice based on research and evaluation.

The pressure on Glasgow of high quality teaching and research has many benefits:

• a stimulus for continuous improvement in healthcare practice.

• recruitment and retention for the city of practitioners of high standing.

• the best possible development of the next generation of health professionals.

Our proposals will strengthen Glasgow’s ability to support high quality teaching and research.