30 July 2019

In the last few weeks, you may have noticed the throng of newly qualified doctors in graduation robes and their happy families in tow. Well, I was one of those dewy-eyed parents filled with mixed emotions – of pride and relief! It was also tinged with nostalgia because father and son share the same alma mater! Alas, my misguided offspring has proclaimed that haematology is not for him! Some might regard this as a failure for a BSH President but I shall make amends and channel that nurturing to those young trainees who are keen to join the haematology family.

On that note, I am happy to report that BSH held a very successful ST3 educational day organised by Alex Langridge and Andrew McGregor. Alex attended the ST3 event three years ago as a trainee and it is heart-warming to see the progression from trainee to organising and delivering this event. This is one example of increasing trainee involvement and leadership, which is a real success for BSH. It reflects our strong commitment to working with everyone across the specialty.

Then and now - BSH President Cheng-Hock Toh
Then and now - BSH President Cheng-Hock Toh

This also applies to our nursing and allied health professional colleagues in haematology. You will know of my efforts to increase their engagement and the latest is our new free BSH Associate Membership scheme.  Please spread the word and signpost the many benefits of becoming a BSH member, especially ahead of our 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) when we celebrate our Diamond Jubilee as one inclusive and energised family. On the Sunday before the ASM in Birmingham, we will be repeating a bespoke educational day for medical students, foundation year doctors and advanced nurse practitioners in addition to the “Pitfalls in Haematology” programme for specialist registrars.

All this is part of futureproofing haematology, which is a major responsibility of the BSH President. For our newly qualified doctors, the future will be increasingly about personalised medicine and be unheralded new treatments for rare diseases, because of burgeoning genomic and technological advances. With establishment of the Genomic Laboratory Hubs (GLH), BSH has been first off the blocks among medical specialties in engaging Genomics England. We held a joint meeting recently to bring Dame Sue Hill and leaders from the 4 GLHs providing haematology services together to ensure smooth transition of genomic haematology research into NHS services. We are all clearer now about the joint next steps to enable integration of genomics into our multi-disciplinary team meetings.

After a month of July filled with diverse activities, August will be when the mailbox generally gets quieter. Some headspace time is always good and I am relishing the chance to reflect and plan ahead for BSH, our 60 at 60 ideas and the BSH Board retreat happening immediately after the summer. August will also mark my 16th month as BSH President, with a third of the course still to run. The 60th anniversary BSH ASM will mark that end of course and I hope that my own “graduation time” will also be filled with mixed emotions – of pride and relief!

With my best wishes,