30 April 2021

Up the junction

I write this as the BSH annual scientific meeting is in swing - I still feel that the term ‘full-swing’ should be retained for in-person meetings. For me, although anything I can attend from bed without getting dressed definitely has appeal, something tangible is, I guess, literally missing. Also, maybe, my show-off side misses a captive audience? A friend who congratulated me that I had “made a pretty good career out of public speaking” will bear me out on that one. However, I confess that I still have the heebie-jeebies at the idea of any of my sayings and doings being recorded or filmed, not least because of my rather liberal swearing habits. Hence, I have typically found my roles in lockdown, on-line conference ‘extremely’ stressful. So, I want to pay a special personal tribute to my dear colleagues in the BSH office for helping me to get over myself in order to do what has been required of me for BSH Annual Scientific Meeting, by providing me with professional, factually correct information at the drop of a hat. I need to thank Tamara Everington - yet again - for her amazing organisation of the annual meeting in cooperation with our fabulous program committee. Who could ever be afraid of opening up a meeting when sharing a platform with Tamara? I must also pay tribute to MCI, our conference partners for their hard work, right to the wire, especially in accommodating our late decision to extend the abstract deadline to allow you more time to submit your work and in our extremely late decision to organise a very late-breaking session on vaccine-induced thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia. You will all be aware of the incredible work the expert haematology panel have done. I hope you will join me in thanking them for the huge support they have offered to our community in dealing with this new condition.

Although the pleasure of seeing the BSH annual meeting work well is sufficient to sustain my pleasant mood for a while, it is still the case that globally, we remain in a massive mess from the pandemic “and so it’s my assumption I’m really up the junction1”. The COVID vaccination program has definitely gone well in the UK, with the active support of BSH members in numerous capacities, but the apparently positive UK situation is more a result of our recent, extended lockdown, rather than vaccination alone. When we see the suffering of our friends, colleagues and loved ones in India, how can we simply assume that our own lives can go right back to ‘normal’ with “international leisure travel” possibly resuming on 17 May and “all legal limits on social contact” being removed by mid-June. Contrary to the poorly thought-out view previously shared by former Prime Minister Theresa May, that people who believed themselves to be citizens of the world were, in fact, ‘citizens of nowhere', many valued UK citizens are indeed citizens of other countries. Even absent dual citizenship, I expect the vast majority of BSH members find international interactions of many kinds critically important for their personal and working lives.  Staunch anti-globalists should take note of the fact that India has been helping to keep the whole world safe for many years. The Serum Institute of India is by far the world's largest vaccine producer by the number of doses produced, manufacturing around 1.5 billion doses of various vaccines each year.

I will turn to a few housekeeping matters to close my bulletin in a less agitated manner. Something close to my heart is mentorship. I have been incredibly lucky to have lots of help from very many people in my career. It’s not a secret that Tony Goldstone in particular, a former BSH President who I first met when he taught me as a medical student has stood by me through innumerable, spiky, mouthy years and offered me bountiful opportunities, including to work on ALL. I have tried to pass on what I have received in mentorship wherever I could. However, I would be delighted to see a more coordinated national effort for haematology mentorship and especially one that is unencumbered by the assigned and formal educational supervisory relationships mandated by training programs. I am very pleased that the BSH Board is setting up a working group of early career members to consider how the BSH can best serve their specific needs.  The group is open to all BSH members in-training, from any profession.  We are looking for about ten volunteers to brainstorm ideas and plans over the summer to report to the Board in autumn 2021.  Whether you have ideas for educational resources, an innovation award or ideas on how BSH can support members by offering mentorship in the non-clinical aspects of their careers, let us know by applying to join the group

We are also looking for a new Vice-Chair for BSH Scientific and Publications Committee. This committee manages the BSH grants programme, including grant calls and the review, awarding, and tracking of grant applications. In recent years, the Committee has restructured the grants programme to target those who most need the support, overseen the allocation of hundreds of scholarships, and launched numerous new grant types, including the Cohort Study Grant. If you have a background in clinical, scientific, or allied health research and feel you could assist, influence and help develop BSH grant award mechanisms, please apply.

Finally, we need a future programme committee chair, so we are looking to appoint a program committee vice-chair who can commit to stepping up to the chair role when Josh Wright’s term has ended. If you have strong opinions on the BSH annual meeting and things you’d like to see happen, this is the job for you.


  1. Squeeze “Up the Junction” Cool for Cats, A & M records, 1979