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Lay advisory group articles

Lay communication cartoonGood Communication Skills – A Personal View

At a recent part II exam, the Communications Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) featured a ‘scenario’ where the patient received very bad news about their failing sight, and would clearly be needing support for the future in terms of benefits, Certification and so on.

Some candidates displayed an impressive ability to communicate in a compassionate manner, coupled with knowledge of help available. However, Lay Examiners were troubled that other candidates seemed to think a stark delivery of the bad news was all that was required. This felt very much like leaving the patient high and dry, and we would have been much more re-assured if a ‘what we can do to assist you’ had been used. (After all, it is included in the Curriculum at Patient Management 11).

It is important that Ophthalmologists are able to provide patients with a clear description of the distinction between certification and registration including explaining the process, the purpose and next steps.

Therefore we question:

  1. How well do all Ophthalmologists feel they are communicating to anxious patients? (the cartoon illustrates what can go wrong!).
  2. How well do Ophthalmologists train (and assess their trainees) in communications? While we recognise the limitations in trying to perform Workplace-based Assessments (WpBAs) on Communications in a busy clinic, we would ask if the use of videos could be explored?
  3. Where do Ophthalmologists routinely direct patients for advice? Do they have an ECLO (Eye Clinic Liaison Officer)?
  4. Do they encourage their management / CCG to fund ECLOs?
  5. Do they keep a list of resources (patient groups, internet sites etc) for reference?

Whilst examining might have highlighted this as an issue, the RCOphth Curriculum is very clear about the need for the use of good communications –

Matt Broom, Stephen Kills and Christine Wall

Lay Advisory Group