30 November 2020

Everybody hurts.

Since we last communicated, the world seems to have shifted a teeny bit for the better. It feels like, having sat very uncomfortably in the same place for too long, we have made a small postural adjustment, leaving us seated in the exact the same metaphorical spot, but perhaps temporarily more able to bear it. ‘If you think you've had too much, Of this life, well hang on’1. It certainly has made the latter part of England Lockdown Two easier for me to bear personally, now that I am no longer checking the US election vote tallies every single time I wake up in the night.  Added to that, I am excited to contemplate that we may shortly start to receive vaccines against COVID-19.

However, it has come as a surprise to many of us that we are seeing snapshots of vaccine efficacy data released via the mainstream media prior to reading peer-reviewed publications. As a cancer clinical trials enthusiast, I am used to being appropriately and firmly guided by my statistics colleagues to not release data until the message is as clear as it is going to be and will not change. In particular, we are always extremely careful not to release information from ongoing randomised studies. A young patient recently informed me that she was not going to be “made to take the vaccine” until the full data are published, and she has had the chance to see them for herself. Whatever happens in the short term, the amazing vaccine developments will undoubtedly confer significant global benefits even in the absence of 95% efficacy. We just need to sit still and hold on a little longer, despite the discomfort.

This month, we held the first virtual BSH annual scientific meeting. Statistically speaking, it was ‘efficacious’! We had the same number of registrants that we would expect for face-to-face meetings. Individual sessions had as many or more participants than we would expect at an in-person meeting and, of course, the content remains online for additional views. I was personally humbled and impressed by the time and effort everyone put into their virtual contributions, which were a pleasure to watch and listen to. I would again like to thank Tamara Everington, all the programme committee and MCI for their hard work, creativity, and adaptability, and to our external speakers for giving up their time on behalf of our society. We would all dearly love to get together in person, as we have always done, but now is not the time. I am so pleased that we made a success in creating such a vibrant virtual community.

If you are interested in getting more involved in the BSH community, nominations for Board of Trustee positions are soon due. We will have two vacancies, one for Treasurer and for one Ordinary Member. We would like to have as diverse a Board as possible to reflect and represent our expanding membership and to bring new perspectives and ideas. To enable more people to stand for the Board, associate membership now counts towards the ‘two-years-of-membership’ requirement (please see here for full eligibility requirements). We hope this will enable more trainees, nurses, scientists, and allied health professionals working in haematology to consider joining our Board. Board meetings take place 4-5 times a year, usually including one overnight retreat. At present, of course, we are meeting virtually. As an ordinary Board Trustee, you do not need to have held a senior role or have any specific prior experience, but you do need to have a commitment to and a passion for haematology and a willingness to engage with others and share your ideas and to help BSH implement its new strategy over the next three years. Our Treasurer, will additionally need to be highly numerate, financially savvy,  have some experience of managing substantial budgets and be able to work with the Society’s accountants to generate reports and recommendations to the Board regarding BSH finances. All new members of the Board of Trustees receive a thorough induction and support from both other Trustees and BSH staff to help them settle into the role. When you receive an email from the BSH inviting you to put yourself forward for nomination on Friday 4 December, please give it some serious consideration. If you have any queries on the process of becoming a Board Trustee, please contact [email protected].  You are also welcome to ask me or other current Board members, whose details can be found on the BSH website, about our experience. It is a very collegial group and includes lay Trustees whose skills and experience are completely different than our own and from whom it is a lot of fun to learn.


  1. REM, Everybody Hurts, Automatic for the People, 1992 Warner Bros Records