28 February 2020

I had mixed feelings reading a congratulatory note recently from my employer on attaining 25 years of service in Liverpool. Throwback time to 1995, it was particularly eventful with a new job in a new city and a new baby, all in a matter of 4 weeks! The baby is now a Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctor who pleased me recently by saying that haematologists in his hospital are renowned as the most helpful specialists to consult. Unfortunately, he went on to add “…not like you, Dad”!!

So, he is not as sweet as he once was just like I am not as youthful. 25 years from now, the BSH President will be one of you trainees or new Consultants reading this and I am heartened by the talent pool out there. There is more young blood in BSH committees, including the programme committee for the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). I will have the pleasure of co-chairing sessions with some of them. Pip Nicholson will be showcasing HaemSTAR at the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) session. HaemSTAR is a trainee network in non-malignant haematology research, which has grown in just four years into a national network involving 18 geographical hubs. They have won prizes, funding and delivered Flash-Mob audits to the praise of NIHR leaders. Another co-chair on a session entitled “Who’s looking after me?” is Stephen Hibbs, who is a budding haematologist-cum-hip-hop artist responsible for “bloodrhymes”!

Music wise, we look forward to the B Positive choir (of Britain’s Got Talent fame) performing at the conference dinner. As many will know, they are part of our haematology family and it is tremendous that we can celebrate their joyous talent at our Diamond Jubilee ASM. Registration for the ASM at the ICC Birmingham on the 27-29 April has now exceeded 1000 registrants and I would be most grateful if you could also signpost the programme to your multi-disciplinary team. Young or old, we have generous offers to get as many of our family together to celebrate our 60th year.

Another important strand of this 60th anniversary year is the global importance of British haematology. Our BSH plenary speaker programme offers two exciting opportunities for members to speak at conferences in Bangkok (International Society of Haematology 38th World Congress) and Johannesburg (The Conference of The South African Society of Haematology). Undoubtedly, these offer unrivalled opportunities to share knowledge, establish connections and represent BSH with pride.

February will end with a big bang as you get to choose your next Vice-President (President in 2022-24). I strongly encourage you to vote to ensure that BSH works for the ever-expanding family and that you have a leader that can take the society from strength to strength. If you have not received an email with the voting code, please contact membership@b-s-h.org.uk. At Committee level, we are also looking for a Vice-Chair in the Scientific and Publications Committee to drive the academic ambitions of the society for a more research-active workforce.

Last but not least, the final whistle beckons on my time as your president. The role was never an ambition when I started my Consultant career. All I can say to our trainees and new Consultants is that unexpected opportunities arise and unforeseen things happen. Your family at home and at work are both crucial for support and I have been very lucky in Liverpool these past many years. 25 years on, what would really crown that time is an end to the long wait for Liverpool FC to be Premier League champions once again!

With best wishes,

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh