Raising standards in hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Published: 20 Aug 2014
Dr Nicholas Cooper, from Barford Saint Martin in Wiltshire, has just returned from a six- week Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to centres of excellence in hyperbaric medicine in Hobart, Auckland and Cape Town.
Hyperbaric medicine is the medical use of oxygen at high pressure, employed in the treatment of a number of conditions including decompression sickness (‘the bends’) and carbon monoxide poisoning.
At present, there is no syllabus in Europe for the teaching of hyperbaric medicine at Diploma level. Yet with the ever-increasing numbers diving for work as well as pleasure, and proposed tunnelling projects such as the Hinkley C power station in Somerset, the demand for doctors experienced in this field is greater than ever. As Deputy Director of Assessment at London’s Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Nicholas was tasked with developing a formalised academic programme through the analysis of best practice overseas.
Nicholas visited experts at three renowned centres viz Hobart, Tasmania; Auckland, New Zealand and Tygerberg, Cape Town. At each centre he obtained information on training and best practice for practitioners of diving and hyperbaric medicine, and also explored the regulatory frameworks governing diving and compressed air work in each jurisdiction.
Nicholas is using the information gained to develop new postgraduate diplomas for the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in diving, hyperbaric and tunnelling medicine for physicians wishing to be registered with the General Medical Council as competent to practice in these specialist areas.
The consultative processes with an international panel of experts advising the Faculty have already begun, and draft documents circulated with a view to finalizing a syllabus for each diploma as well as examinations for candidates. These are expected to be available within the next 12-18 months.
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