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27 November 2012
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eNews November: Spotlight on... Clare Marx

An interview with Dame Clare Marx

Describe your role in one sentence
I am a practising orthopaedic surgeon, leading on the patient safety initiative for Royal College of Surgeons as an elected council member

What are your main challenges and how do you overcome them... 
My main challenge is time, pursuing active clinical practice in addition to my other workstreams. To address these challenges, I need to be immensely organised, have lots of support from colleagues , a very understanding husband and  a good support network  to help manage dependants and responsibilities.  I discussed with my Trust a pattern of clinical practice that was acceptable to them, and bought some additional leave to cover days out at professional meetings and external events.

At the 2012 FMLM annual conference, Peter Lees called for more women in leadership roles what do you think the sector needs to do in order to achieve this?

We need to be more upfront about the problem– We don't have enough women in the key leadership roles at present. There is a perception that women make their choices and exclude themselves from these roles and that women are not applying for leadership roles because they lack the ambition. If there is more recognition about the need for growing and nurturing women into these roles, we would go looking for women leaders. Without that mindset change will be painfully slow as we have seen over the last 20 years.

What is the most difficult challenge you see doctors facing in their role as leaders?
The changing healthcare system and how to balance decreasing resource with increasing demand.

There should be an open and proper discussion about where and how services are delivered balancing patient needs and choice with clinical reality, what the priorities are, what should and should not be delivered and recognition of the skills available to deliver services. 

The recent high profile patient safety incidents are the wake up calls that we need to ensure we get ‘caring’ and professional standards to the top of the agenda of the profession both for the clinical staff and the management.  We have to ensure patients get appropriate care as well as medical treatment.

In surgery, we see older and older people. We perform lifestyle operations like hip and knee replacements as well as the urgent and emergency surgery. This means we need to have to concentrate on how and where healthcare is delivered safely and effctively for older people and that will necessitate new ways delivering the service. The example of the improvement in outcomes for patients with Fractured necks of femur following the introduction of the Best practice tariff has shown us how important such changes can be.

Why did you join FMLM?
It’s the way forward- growing people in a professional environment- and it’s a great networking opportunity. Having been the (FMLM) annual conference a little while ago, I think it is important to have a physical as well as virtual gathering of the FMLM.

What do you want to see from FMLM next?
FMLM needs to develop online forums and support local leadership learning sets. I also think it is important to develop as a forum to draw in politicians.

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