29 August 2019

I hope you have all had good breaks and enjoyed the summer. Do check that you have not missed the BSH announcements in the last month and I wish to draw your attention to the next round of BSH-NIHR awards. This will be the third occasion that we celebrate NHS clinicians who have gone above and beyond to involve haematology patients in research. I have been particularly pleased that senior leaders, such as Louise Wood (Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)) and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of England, Professor Dame Sally Davies have presented the last two rounds of these awards.

Engaging with influencers in the NHS and DHSC has to be a core function of BSH. My job is to get the Haematology community to be listened to and that “small is beautiful” applies to how we, as a relatively small medical society, respond nimbly to governmental and NHS issues. Interactions with the All Parliamentary Party Groups (APPG) are important and there have been notable ones for Haematology by the APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood and the APPG on Blood Cancer.

There has also been increasing discussion on how the APPG in Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia can facilitate better patient care. BSH would like to influence the APPG in this area, and this was demonstrated by the winning presentation of our 2018 Crucible Prize, “Young Black and Stigmatised” by Sonia Wolf. This trainee-led Crucible session on “How do Haematologists do most harm to patients” was held at the BSH ASM in 2018.

In 2019, the winning presentation was by Jennifer Darlow on “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)-biting the hand that feeds” in response to “How can haematology change the world”. I will be following through on this soon with CMO Sally Davies who is also the UK Special Envoy on AMR to shape how we can meaningfully contribute to existing work in the area. In the meantime, do watch out for the next theme of the Crucible session at ASM 2020! BSH will do its best to follow through with some realistic actions from the winning entry.

Investing in our trainees has been a recurring theme in these Presidential posts but harnessing the workforce across the age and “-ism” spectrum is equally important to me in future-proofing BSH. There are pressing concerns around recruitment and retention. For those who can relate to starting as Consultants at around the same time as I did, the Government announcement on further changes in pension arrangements, including review of the taper arrangements is welcome. The argument made of the damage current arrangements were doing to medical retention has been listened to. Amidst all the noise around government at present, this recognition comes as a pleasant surprise!

With best wishes,

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh