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Colville Laird retires from BASICS Scotland

Interview with Colville

What led you to where you are now? Cd you give us a bit of background on your life from school to now?

I was a GP in Auchterarder from 1984 and at the time there were no paramedics in Scotland and GPs undertook emergency care. In 1993 some money became available for training GPs in pre hospital emergency care in Perthshire. One course led to another and another. This is particularly important in remote and rural areas where the distance from a hospital is greater. In the early days we loaded manikins and other equipment into 2 cars on a Friday morning, travelled to a remote part of Scotland, ran a course from Friday lunchtime and returned Sunday evening to go back to work on Monday morning.

What posts did you juggle and how did you do it?

In 2000 I reduced my GP time to 50% and worked for BASICS Scotland for the other 50%. Initially the BASICS office was in the GP surgery which made the juggling easier as I could go between my 2 halves easily. A pivotal moment in juggling the 2 posts was the release of Windows 95 and of course mobile phones becoming mobile offices.

What did you enjoy most? What was your biggest frustration?

The universal enthusiasm to help, run and teach courses at BASICS is astounding and something I am immensely grateful for.

A big frustration of involvement with the NHS is the lack of urgency in answering emails or not answering them at all.

Would you recommend your job to your children?

As it happens none of my children have chosen to work in healthcare as my wife and I do. Possibly something to do with the poor work/life balance but I believe it does take a certain type of person to work in healthcare.

How do you see simulation changing in the next few years?

Remote simulation methodologies. As an example you can teach simulation remotely using video game technology. Microsoft Flight simulator has its uses in learning and maintain pilot skills. I think these things will grow in the years ahead thereby reducing the need to transport people to training. Practising taught skills and applying knowledge to practical situations are critical to improving patient outcomes. Video games already exist where a patient is shown by the roadside, for example, the participant is provided with all the equipment they would have in the real situation, but as icons on the screen and has to decide what equipment to use in the situation. The vital signs of the onscreen patient change according to the treatment administered. Practice is essential to improving skills.

If you were put in charge of the NHS what is the first thing you would do?

I would do everything in my power to eliminate the blame culture.

Do you practice what you preach?

I hope so, but probably not. Self-awareness is, I believe, something we all have to work at.

How do you plan on relaxing in your retirement?

I intend to potter more in my cottage in Tiree.

Favourite meal?

Bread especially sourdough – I love baking it as well as eating it.


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