Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Orkney, not quite the most northerly spot for UK GP training but close. A short flight from Inverness or 2.5-hour drive to Scrabster and then a ferry across to the picturesque fishing village of Stromness on ‘mainland’ Orkney. Whether GP training or holidaying, as we were, what a fantastic and friendly place. So much to see, do and enjoy. A well organised archipelago of islands, we received daily updates of island activities via email and so missed nothing of the busy islands goings on. With years of history embedded into the body of Orkney we were tripping over brochs and burial chambers, WW1 & WW2 lookout posts and Viking farmsteads on walks to the beach!

Great cycling around the smaller islands with short ferry trips to start the days adventure. We had a great trip round Rousay and visited the digs that are currently excavating Viking ‘patios’ and Pictish villages. Just the week before the handprint of a Pictish coppersmith had been excavated and the excitement of the archaeologists was palpable. Our 3 boys of 11 & twins of 8 were less than excited however by the broken pottery finds but were intrigued by the fish bones sucked by Vikings!
(1000 year old hand print found -

Having taken a cottage just north of Ophir we had a fantastic view of the Island of Hoy and were able to cycle around the island leave the car abandoned for most of the holiday. Each evening we were visited by a pair of Hen Harriers displaying their acrobatic hunting in front of the house and gave great delight and competition to the television which like the car was abandoned for the entire holiday. On the one rainy day we visited Kirkwall Parkrun and followed this with a swim at the The Pickaquoy Centre. Fantastic island facilities and what a playground for holiday fun. 
(Short YouTube clip on what Orkney has to offer -

While on holiday I was drawn to think what a fantastic place to train as a GP. Orkney NHS Trust are currently building a fantastic new hospital due for completion in May 2019 and there are two great training practice The Skerryvore Practice, Kirkwall and The Surgery, Dounby. Orkney NHS Trust also run GP care of the islands with The Orcades Practice consisting of 5 island branch settings. I was tempted to relocate but lost the family vote 4 to 1 with a unanimous consolation vote for a holiday in Orkney next year.

Dr Mark Taylor ES & GP Associate Advisor, NES, Inverness Office.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Achieving success in the AKT and an amazing lunch at GPST2 Induction!

Induction time brings a chance for the ST2 trainees to all catch up from their hospital posts, and there was certainly plenty of chat and laughter to suggest they were making the most of the opportunity.  The ST2s were put through their paces in the morning trying out some mock AKT questions during a session focussed on achieving success in the AKT.  This session was led by Dr Sally Harkness, GP and RCGP examiner and it was well received by all the trainees with great interaction during the question debrief.

The feedback shows the lunch provided by the RCGP was “Great!” and there was certainly lots of great networking and socialising as the ST3s had arrived for their CSA session.  It was great to see the interaction between all the trainees from both year groups.  

After lunch they had informal interactive sessions to support their journey through the rest of the year.  With opportunities to ask questions and receive valuable information they left, fuelled with resources to help them achieve success this year.

Satisfactory progression, Mentoring ans CSA case writing at GPST3 Induction

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, induction fever has hit.  The ST3 sessions were split over 2 days with the first day incorporating sessions on “satisfactory progression in ST3”.  This gave them lots of useful advice about the year ahead and the resources available to them.  Following this, they had an interactive session on how to make the most of ST3, with the benefits teaching and mentoring as a trainee has to offer.  There was lots of keen enthusiasm following this for the various opportunities on offer.

This was followed by a careers session which the trainees rated highly, giving them a chance to speak to a variety of different GPs.  This generated lots of great questions and discussion about the various opportunities available to give them ideas about what life after training can offer them.

The following week they had a chance to meet and socialise with the ST2s for lunch provided by the RCGP.  This set them up well for a fantastic interactive session led by Sally Harkness, GP and RCGP examiner.  Focusing on the CSA exam they had a chance to find out all the practical aspects and tips for achieving success in the exam.  Getting a chance to write their own CSA cases brought the exam to life and they have all left more reassured and with great enthusiasm for the Nairn CSA course in a couple of months.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The GPST 3 Course begins…

The education season for GPST3’s got off to a flying start at Centre for Health Sciences in Inverness this week. The course began with translating emergency situations in primary care for GPs.

Dr Alison MacLeod ED consultant and her team delivered a great ‘hands on’ start to Day 1 with 6 facilitator led scenarios - meningococcal septicaemia, asthma, trauma, gastroenteritis with shock, status epilepticus and choking. No mannequins were harmed in the session and all survived, growing up to take up medical career choices influenced by the positive experience of the care they received. 

The 2 days progressed to a paediatric masterclass with sessions around Feeding, Allergy and Nutritional problems in Children, General Paediatrics for the GP and case-based Community Paediatric problems. Day 2 was enhanced by local RCGP faculty support and sponsorship providing refreshments, lunch and goodie bags (as pictured above).

On day 2 we received 2 great sessions in Orthopaedic and ENT problems for GPs, interactive sessions with time to ask all the questions we need to ask and address all the learning we didn’t know we didn’t know. 

In starting off the training year Day 2 was further enhanced by a getting started session for CSA preparation. ‘The Journey Begins…’ presented and led by Dr Neil Bennett, GP and CSA examiner.

A successful start and enhancement to the final year of GP training in Primary Care. More of the same to follow in December, January and April as the finishing school approach takes shape for the Caledonian & Rural Track Training Programme for GP training in the North of Scotland. 

Dr Mark Taylor ES & GP Associate Advisor, NES, Inverness Office.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

GPST1s welcomed to Grampian Programme

Forestgrove House in Aberdeen played host to the new GPST1s starting their training in the Grampian programme.

The trainees started with 'getting to know you' Bingo, disappointingly no-one quite got a full house but Hannah filled the most squares and seemed please with her winning prize of a box of Maltesers!

The day continued with lots of discussion about the training programme and opportunities for learning. Dr Vicki Guthrie then gave a snappy presentation on the pitfalls of social media in the PechaKucha style.

Coffee time included some home baking and this was then followed by a small group work covering the many 3 (and more) letter acronyms associated with GP training. A delicious lunch was provided by the local RCGP faculty and then the small group discussion continued.

The day seems to have gone really well with lots of positive feedback.

"Interesting and thorough summary of what to expect in the next 3 years, especially regarding e-portfolio"

"Informal, tutors were very approachable and friendly"

"Relaxed friendly, enthusiastic speakers"

"Helpful to see the e-portfolio, go over mandatory components the curriculum and competencies"

"Found it very beneficial to hear from GPST3 with regards to hints/tips for training"

"Chatting and getting to know other GPSTs"

"Really enjoyed meeting everyone and good having the chance to chat and get to know a bit about the other trainees and members of team leading the training programme"

Supporting the Curriculum at the start of the Caledonian GP Day Release Programme

GP Day Release takes place once a month on a Wednesday for the Caledonian GP training Programme with a trainee led session in the morning and a facilitator led session in the afternoon.

The year kicked off last week with the help of a session from Highland Health Promotion Specialists and some personality profiling. Fortunately, all participants were deemed to have boundless personalities as we divided up into the behaviour profile headings of Driver, Enthusiast, Amiable and Analytical.

Small group work in the afternoon took the format of the usual starter for 10 with icebreakers, group rules and planning for the forthcoming year.

Group 2 attempted to 'Support the Curriculum'. As pictured, we split the group into 2 teams of 5 (2 volunteers and 3 helpers) and with the help of the helpers the 2 volunteers attempted to support the curriculum statements between each other. No curriculum statement was to touch the other and the paper was not to touch the floor.

The winning team was the one with the most curriculum statements supported. As you can see only a few of the rules were broken!

Hopefully everyone's eportfolio will be as good at capturing and supporting the curriculum statement headings as our volunteers were....

Dr Mark taylor
ES and GP Associate Advisor, NES, Inverness 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

First para athlete's at Mey Highland Games...

This weekend the far North of Scotland staged the first ever Highland Games to include para athletes.  The Mey Highland Games took place on Saturday showcasing the usual traditional events alongside the first ever Invictus style Highland Games which attracted 60 para-athletes from far flung destinations including Australia and the US. 

This is one of only two Highland Games in the country to attract Royalty, with Prince Charles attending annually as chieftain of the games.