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Matthew Syed delivers keynote speech at BSAVA Congress
Matthew Syed highlighted the psychological and cultural factors that shape high performance in sport, science and many other fields.

Opening ceremony looks at the importance of being self-aware

British journalist and author Matthew Syed has spoken out about the importance of self-awareness and how it can help people to enjoy a successful professional life.

Speaking at BSAVA Congress on Friday (5 April), the former Olympic table tennis star highlighted the psychological and cultural factors that shape high performance in sport, science and many other fields.

He stressed that there are two ways of looking at success. It is either fixed by talent, predisposition and intelligence or it is something that will grow through discipline, practice and self-evaluation.

Mr Syed gave a number of examples where professionals he has worked with have examined their own shortcomings and worked hard to overcome them. He explained that when ghostwriting David Beckham’s autobiography, his subject insisted that his legendary free-kick taking skills were a result of hours of practice, rather than natural ability.

In another example, Mr Syed spoke about how a similar ability to learn from mistakes has dramatically cut the number of people dying in aviation accidents. He said this was achieved by encouraging a culture in which staff are willing to report near-miss events.

In contrast, 45,000 people a year in the US died from central line infections because senior doctors would not admit to mistakes. Mr Syed claimed that self-justification and error concealment was and still is a key characteristic of the medical profession.

He spoke about how it is common for professionals not to admit their mistakes over fears they will be punished, but added that change can occur when the system encourages the adoption of a ‘no blame culture’.

He concluded there is no place for a dominance hierarchy in the modern world. Respect for the knowledge gained by senior members of a professional team should not prevent colleagues from offering opinions on solving a shared problem.

“Expertise is not about how much we know - it’s about finding what we don’t know,” he said.

Image (C) Paul Clarke Photography.

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.