Welcome to our international newsletter to keep you up to date with College activities around the world.

International newsletter

March 2018

From the President

Prof Derek BellSince the last issue of the International Newsletter, I have had the pleasure of meeting many College Fellows at events worldwide. These included the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Academy of Medicine in Singapore during July held in conjunction with the 51st Singapore-Malaysia Congress of Medicine. In August I delivered a lecture on Improving Mental Health through Early Intervention, Acute Care and Improvement Science at the International Symposium for Nurses and Clinicians in Malaysia. I then travelled to Myanmar to deliver lectures and workshops on medical education and attend a roll signing of new Fellows. I was also delighted to discuss the importance of clinical skills in the 21st Century at the 50th Annual Scientific Congress of the Ceylon College of Physicians in Sri Lanka in September.

New Fellows DaySince September it has been a pleasure to welcome 66 new Fellows and their families to the College from around the world at two New Fellows’ Ceremonies. Our new Fellows were from the UK and 15 other countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, the USA and New Zealand.  I hope they will enjoy reading this edition of our international newsletter and will take the opportunity to contribute to future issues.

In November I attended the 16th Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer and Research Hospital Symposium in Lahore, Pakistan. This was a truly international symposium attended by over 1900 delegates discussing and debating all aspects of cancer care as well as a providing a strong educational component for doctors wishing to pursue a career in oncology. As well as delivering a plenary talk on the relationship with Pakistan and Scotland over the years, I also met with over 60 trainees to discuss medicine in the UK. During the short trip, I visited the hospital and was impressed by the facilities, the hospital vision which provides care free to over 75% of the patients as well as their commitment to providing continuity of care over the course of the disease from diagnosis to cure or end of life.

In January I attended the GAPIO conference in Mumbai, representing the UK Federation. The Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) conference was very well attended and I delivered the plenary speech on “Medical Leadership: mantra vs. reality”. It was an excellent chance to explore opportunities for joint working in the future.

In February, I was pleased to attend a series of productive meetings in Pakistan, including a cardiology conference at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, and I visited the first ever Acute Medical Unit to open in Pakistan. I was honoured to meet the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, with a delegation at Aiwan-e-Sadr, with the aim of exploring ways of increasing collaboration between the College and Pakistani medical colleges and universities.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS. The College will be joining with initiatives to celebrate this milestone for the NHS across the different health services of the UK as 2018 progresses. If you have had experience working in the NHS in the UK, we would love to hear your stories and experiences of it. Please send us vignettes - in no more than 200 words - describing individuals or events you would like to be recognised and celebrated for their contribution to our NHS. 

We are also recruiting with a call for applications for an Overseas Regional Adviser (OSRA) in Tamil Nadu, with a deadline of 28 March.   Our OSRAs are a vital part of the College’s international network, acting as a local representative for the College and a main communication link with local Fellows. We are keen that our OSRA’s support our web streaming events by hosting new sites and facilitating the sessions – please contact us if you are keen to expand this programme and how we can make these events more relevant for your colleagues.

Finally, I am delighted that the College has supported the EMMS International campaign “Every Life Matters”, to improve healthcare in Malawi. The campaign, launched on 3 November, had the backing of the UK government which has agreed to match donations from the public.

Every Life MattersIn Malawi children with terminal cancer spend their days in pain and hunger because poverty puts pain relief, quality healthcare and even basic food out of reach. Cancer diagnoses have more than doubled in the last decade. By 2021, an estimated 180,000 patients and their families will need palliative care. Across Africa, cancer cases are expected to grow by 400% in the next 50 years.

EMMS International’s campaign will raise money to train more healthcare workers, improve access to healthcare and support families to grow their own food. The campaign will help 10,000 patients and a further 50,000 family members over the next three years.

From the International Director

2017 was a busy year and the College is keen to progress and involve our international Fellows, Members and Overseas Regional Advisers (OSRAs) in joint symposium throughout 2018 and beyond. We have already had several successful symposia abroad, including our second joint collaboration with Peerless Hospital and BK Roy Foundation, Acute Physicians West Bengal Chapter in Kolkata, India in December 2017. Once again, this was a huge success and many thanks to Dr Sujit Kar Purkayastha, Dr Dipanker Bhatacheria, and their organising committee. We are currently planning the next joint meeting in 2018.

I have just returned from a hugely successful joint meeting with the Jordan Society of Nephrology and transplantation, Arab Society of Nephrology and transplantation, international Society of Nephrology and the College (February 14 -17, 2018). Speakers included the President of the British Renal Association and the past president of the ISN, both personal friends. I am once again indebted to the immense drive and enthusiasm from our OSRA and dearest friend Mohammad Ghnaimat, who is also the President of Jordan Society of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation; President of Arab Society of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation; Chairman of the ISN Middle East Board Region. More details in the next newsletter.

The values of care and compassion are key to our profession, and the College has developed these themes throughout our workstreams in 2017. I would like to capture the views of our Fellows and Members on what compassion means in practice in healthcare. Please take a moment to complete this very short survey (it takes 1-2  minutes) to tell us what compassion means to you, and please share this link among colleagues working in healthcare.

We are always keen to hear from our OSRA’s. We are currently reviewing their role and how they can help improve the opportunities and educational events provided by the College to their colleagues locally. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions. Our first task is to ensure that we are engaging regularly with our Members and Fellows and, importantly, have an up-to-date record of active members.


Fellowship: It is wonderful to see the many applications we receive for Fellowship of the College. Here are a few tips to ensure you maximise your application and make the process much easier for the Fellowship Committee to assess:

  • Detail the start date of a substantial consultant appointment.

  • All essential areas in your CV are covered, including:

    • Clinical service

    • Education – undergraduate/ postgraduate and other

    • Research involvement or experience

    • Publication record

    • Service to the wider community and service development

    • Key roles

International webstreaming sitesInternational Webstreaming: The College webstreams its major symposia to over 60 webstreaming sites in over 30 countries across the world. These webstreams are very well received by colleagues at our international host centres and the number of sites joining us for events is constantly increasing. To view the list of webstreamed events and host centres near you, please visit our Events Calendar.

New webstreaming sites for 2017 included:

  •     Silchar Medical College, Assam, India

  •     St Bernard’s Hospital, Gibraltar

  •     Sultan Ismail Hospital, Johor Bahru, Malaysia and

  •     Central Park Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan

If you do not see a live streaming centre near you and would be interested in setting one up, please contact our International Assistant, Heather Dyson.

PACES: We are involved in delivering PACES preparation courses overseas in the following locations:

  • Myanmar - together with the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (twice per year) on behalf of the Federation of Colleges.
  • Saudi Arabia – we have delivered training on PACES stations 2 and 4 by video link for a local course.  There are no immediate plans to repeat this but check back here for updates.
  • India – Our International Director, Professor Sunil Bhandari has delivered a PACES preparation lecture in Kolkata in 2017 and more recently in Islamabad, Pakistan.

PACES Preparation Evenings: We also have recordings of our PACES preparation evenings free to access on our Education Portal for all members and PACES candidates. Please email cme@rcpe.ac.uk for log-in details for this section.

News from around the world

The College is establishing educational links with Lusaka Apex Medical University (LAMU), Zambia and Nkhoma in Malawi to help develop their curriculum and train the future generation of medical staff and the current staff. Anyone interested from around the world in volunteering their time is most welcome.

Colleagues may have seen media coverage of the expanded Livingstone Fellowship Scheme, which enables doctors from Zambia to come to Scotland to receive specialist training. This is provided through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland and will allow three experienced doctors from Zambia and Malawi to receive further training.

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mauritius and are now actively planning MTI placements and a joint symposium in the future. Watch this space for more information.

We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia and discussions are in hand for a joint symposium in collaboration Johar Bahu with Roger Barton also.

Flying high in Himalayas

Prof Satyan Rajbhandari, the College's International Development Group Member and General Secretary of Health Exchange Nepal (UK)

In May 2017, our College organised a Regional Symposium in Nepal with the Society of Internal Medicine of Nepal (SIMON) and Health Exchange Nepal UK (HExN).  It was arranged to coincide with the 13th international SIMON conference and was attended by 200 physicians from Nepal and the neighbouring countries. Professor Derek Bell and eight other Fellows from the UK, Nepal and India presented lectures. The President of SIMON, Dr Lava Joshi, highlighted the role played by the College in advancing medical knowledge in Nepal. Professor Bell explained the global role of the College in improving and maintaining standards of medical training. It was agreed that the College's Regional Symposium will be a biennial event.

The faculty dinner was hosted by HExN in a traditional Newari restaurant where exotic foods such as Chhoyala (buffalo meat salad), Foxo (lamb’s lung), Shopamhicha (bone morrow wrapped in intestine), Gidi (goat’s brain) and Rakshi (local spirit) were sampled.

On 5 May 2017, Professor Bell inaugurated the conference. The theme of the meeting was ‘Golden Hours in Acute Medicine’. A College symposium on Acute Medical Emergency was conducted on that day. Dr Mohan Thapa, treasurer of HExN created an excellent programme covering all aspects of acute medicine. Dr Susan Crossland’s presentation focused on National Early Warning Score gathered a lot of interest as there is no such system in Nepal. Dr Kevin Jones entertained the conference with various anecdotes on the management of respiratory failure. The meeting also provided an opportunity for me and Professor Derek Bell to meet various stakeholders in Nepal.  We discussed how RCPE can play an important role in improving the standards of medicine in Nepal. The discussion focussed on how to start and sustain an MRCP examination centre in Nepal. The meeting concluded on 6 May with presentations from trainees. We look forward to organising the second College Regional Symposium in Nepal to take place in May 2019.

New Brunswick: The College was delighted to build on our newly developed association with St Peter's University Hospital based in New Brunswick, New Jersey to further our joint goal of improving bed side teaching in the USA. A faculty of clinicians from the College led by Dr Tom Mackay worked closely with colleagues from New Brunswick led by Dr Nayan Kothari to enhance clinical skills assessment to the local examiners and also to deliver a clinical skills examination to a group of New Brunswick resident doctors and senior medical students.

Our aim is to send a faculty to New Brunswick from the College each Spring and Autumn to help with the delivery of high quality clinical skills teaching and assessment.

The Third Annual “Back to the Beside” Symposium entitled “Teaching the Teacher” took place on 6 March.  The College visiting faculty to New Brunswick was Professor Andy Elder, Dr Alan Patrick, Dr Donald Farquhar, Dr Peter Reid and Dr Nicola Zammitt.  On 7 and 8 March double examination cycles of their local ACCESS pathfinder clinical examination were delivered and administrative support was provided by Lindy Tedford.

Future Meetings and Visits

Jordan: Joint medical meeting with the College and Royal Highness Princess Basma of Jordan has agreed to open the meeting. We will be sending a delegation of eight College speakers to Jordan for this collaborative meeting in April 2018.

New European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology: The Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK is pleased to announce that from January 2018 the current Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Gastroenterology and the European Board of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Examination (EBGHE) will become a single examination which will be referred to as the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology (ESEGH). The examination will be developed and delivered jointly in partnership with the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), the European Section and Board of Gastroenterology (ESBGH) and the Federation.

Medical Training Initiative

We are delighted to report that we have 45 international doctors receiving up to two years’ training in the NHS through our Medical Training Initiative. The current trainees are from Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Trinidad & Tobago and the USA.  More trainees are due to start in the coming months from these countries as well as Australia, Barbados, India, Iraq, Nepal, New Zealand and Uganda.

MTI traineesIn November we held another successful induction event for MTI trainees in collaboration with the GMC. The ‘Welcome to UK Practice’ event aimed to help doctors deal with practical and ethical issues that arise in daily practice.  The day also included how to use and navigate the ePortfolio and top tips for discharge planning.  This was followed by a tour and reception at the College.

We can usually offer opportunities to trainees in most specialties. We particularly seek trainees to benefit from training posts in Acute/General Medicine and Elderly Medicine/Geriatrics. If you know suitable candidates who would be interested in this great opportunity, please encourage them to contact mti@rcpe.ac.uk.


Edinburgh International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult 2017

Dr Rebecca Lee, Consultant in Elderly Medicine, Course Organising Committee

International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult2017 proved to be another highly successful year for the International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult.  A total of 114 delegates from across the world attended with delegates coming from Saudi Arabia to New Zealand.

The overall theme for the week was the frail patient.  Each day focused on a different aspect of this including the frail patient in a care home/acute hospital/at home, abnormal bloods, and cardiovascular disease.  There was a mixture of lectures, interactive case-based discussions and workshops. For a flavour of the course and views from delegates and organisers, watch the video from 2016 on the international courses page.

An attractive social programme included a Welcome Reception and tour of the College’s historical buildings, our very popular evening medical history tour, and a course dinner.  In addition to the social programme, two half-days allowed delegates to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh. 

The Brian Chapman Scholarship was awarded last year to Dr Hein Yarzar Aung from Myanmar and Dr Nirish Vaidya from Nepal (see their reports below). This scholarship is awarded every year to candidates from a DfID* priority country to enable them to attend the conference.

The next course will be held from Monday 14 to Friday 18 May 2018.  Delegates can attend either the full course or on a day-by-day basis.  For further information, please visit our Events Calendar (or contact Josiane Kirk).

Read more from previous international Fellows who have attended this course.

Awards and scholarships

Global Health Essay Prize 2018: Each year we host a Global Health Essay prize, open to medical students and foundation (FY) doctors in their first year post-graduation.

Global Health prize winnersThis year’s Global Health Prize winners are Jola Karaj (FY1 from Middlesex) and James Moran (Medical Student from Oxford). Entrants this year were asked to write an essay on one of the two following questions with the winners being the essays that were most thought-provoking and inspiring as judged by the International Development Group:

  • An ageing population: A global ticking time-bomb
  • The next epidemic – is it inevitable?

The winners each won £125 and a place at the Global Health symposium, which took place on 21 February where winners of the prize from the last two years presented posters on their work. The winning essays can be read here.

The competition for next year will open in November 2018.

MSc Internal Medicine: Congratulations to Dr Ivan Lumu from Uganda, Dr Soe Thu Ya Win from Myanmar, Dr Daveena Meeks from the United Kingdom, Dr Fahima Feroz from Bangladesh, Dr Ruridh Allen from the United Kingdom and Dr Vivek Kumar Prasad from India who have been awarded a scholarship from this College to undertake the MSc in Internal Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The MSc is delivered by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the College as an online distance learning course, completed part-time over three years. We wish our scholarship recipients every success with their studies.


Many thanks to our Fellows and Members who have submitted a selection of interesting articles.

The Medical Training Initiative in Practice, Dr Mazhar Dalvi

Global Pandemic of Diabetes: An Indian Perspective, Dr Aravinda Jagadeesha MD, MRCP(London,UK), FRCP(Edinburgh,UK), Consultant Diabetologist, Dr Aravind’s Diabetes Centre, Karnataka, India

Viewpoint from a medical student in India, Yuva Vishalini Ravindran