31 January 2020


A happy new year to you all. For some of us, it was the real deal a few days ago with the Lunar New Year. In welcoming in the Year of the Rat (the first animal in the 12-year cycle), I must own up to being a rat and quickly point out that there are some positive attributable characteristics in Chinese culture!

Auspicious news to kick off 2020 for BSH includes a further hike in membership – up by 23.6% since this time last year to 2239. Equally positive is the smashing 40% rise in abstract submissions to the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) to well over 500 in number with early indications that its quality is also smashing! Even before we inform the authors about acceptance to present, our registration numbers to the ASM are now at 760, 16% higher than this time last year. This bodes well for a truly special convention of haematology professionals in Birmingham on 27-29 April to celebrate the kick-off to our Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Joining us at the BSH ASM will be Stephanie Lee, the President of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). She will be speaking at the kick-off session, which will be to celebrate the Full Blood Count. As a teaser, the 3 talks are tantalisingly entitled “Diamonds in anaemia”, “Lymphocytes behaving badly” and “Platelets falling into traps”. An equally evocative plenary to also celebrate the Full Blood Count will be held jointly with the European Hematology Association (EHA) on the last day.

When the 2020 BSH ASM finishes, you will have a new President. I am delighted to announce that Adele Fielding will be taking over from me. Adele has a strong national and international reputation and has been on the BSH Board for three years playing an instrumental role in shaping its strategy. The post of BSH vice-president will be contested for and the unique voting codes will be emailed to eligible members alongside an email with voting instructions. Voting will open by Friday February 28th and close on Friday 20th March. I urge you to please vote as it is most important for your say in a leader who can best futureproof the BSH.

As society President, it is imperative to sniff out for winds of change. Perhaps that is a rat attribute, but all indications are for a push back on increasing sub-specialisation because of insufficient doctors in the system. The first BMJ commentary of 2020  was written by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of England, Chris Whitty (with many distinguished co-authors including the General Medical Council (GMC) chair) about the growing problems of multiple morbidities and the need for the medical workforce to shape up to addressing this challenge. The BBC Radio 4 Inside Health programme also discussed the push towards generalists. As haematology professionals, we might think that this will not affect us, but evolution history should warn us about becoming too sub-specialised.

So, where better to polish up your general skills but the BSH ASM – the place for good science, good company and relevant updates on current UK haematology practice. More than ever when the workplace is so pressured and diminishes team-building opportunities, it is important that BSH creates that space to network, learn and have fun together. I look forward to seeing you in Birmingham to kick off our 60th anniversary celebrations.

With best wishes.

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh