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All Hail Red Whale: reflections on the GP update course

By Maham Stanyon, GPVTS ST2
Do you practise according to guidelines? Can you hand on heart, pen to prescription pad, say that you are up to date with the latest recommendations in managing pre-diabetes, preventing falls in the elderly, and can rattle off the latest NICE cancer guidelines with confidence? Even before you get to the guidance itself, there is the dilemma of which one to read; keeping up to date with NICE, SIGN, Royal College recommendations and various expert panels is a full time job in itself, let alone treating patients, tending to QOF targets, carrying out audits and engaging with eportfolio. Even with 10 minutes per patient, where is the room in our day for browsing the latest updates?

Enter the Red Whale GP update course; a course compiled by practising GPs giving an intelligent focused breakdown of the latest evidence in everything that presents to general practice. During our one-day course, akin to a normal clinic, we went from atrial fibrillation and cows’ milk protein allergy, to contraception in epilepsy and diabetes; discussing not only the headline updates but looking at where that evidence came from, quoting statistics from the trials and highlighting where guidance is conflicting and how to best implement recommendations with a practical emphasis, always mindful of the patient in front of you.

Previously a sceptic as to the value of such resources, I am now a proud convert using the site not just for guidance on guidelines, but for checking the latest information on the value of drug and non-drug treatments and evidence based prescribing to give that information to the patient in real time. The site goes a step further as it is possible to record this learning for use in demonstrating continuous professional development, which may prove vital post qualification when facing revalidation.

The scope and breadth of the Red Whale syllabus is astonishing and it is pleasing that none of the detail from smaller trials is left out. Finally I feel there is a resource that addresses clinical guidance from a holistic viewpoint giving you the tools to inform patients who want to know everything, explains the evidence for alternative treatments, and provides a structured approach suitable for busy clinicians with the added bonus of being free from pharmaceutical influences.

In the quest for keeping up to date I feel we have stumbled upon the holy grail, as GP trainees across west London shout “All hail Red Whale”.


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