25 April 2024

I’m excited about this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). We’re on the way to breaking our overall attendance record with over 1,700 registrations.

With around 350 people heading to Liverpool’s finest salsa bar, Alma De Cuba, for the conference party, I for one will be giving my hips a good spray with WD40 to ensure I’m in top operational order.

The BSH will have a stand in the main exhibition area, so please pop by and say hello to the staff and new CEO and consider the many exciting opportunities volunteering will offer you.

I shall finish my period as President much as I started, with a focus on workforce and wellbeing. That seems, to me at least, one of the most significant challenges facing the practice of medicine and delivery of patient care in the NHS.

Please come along to the President's session at the ASM, where you’ll hear new and interesting information about the current state of the haematology workforce and how we might model it in future.

With our workforce project moving quickly, I was interested to read the General Medical Council’s (GMC) research on the reasons doctors are leaving the UK.

In mid-2023, they surveyed around 3,000 doctors working as specialists and GPs, those in training posts, and SAS roles. Approximately 50% of those surveyed have already left the UK or recently returned.

The final report paints a fairly bleak picture: high rates of discontentment with working conditions and pay, scepticism about the changing culture of the NHS, resulting in 13% planning to leave within 12 months and a further 33% giving a move overseas serious consideration.

It’s worth considering the trigger points identified within the survey to understand how we might influence this potential exodus. Most leave at a career crossroads, such as a gap in training. But political decisions about the NHS, burnout and handling of the junior doctor’s strike feature prominently. Alarmingly, almost 20% were influenced by adverse workplace incidents, for example, discrimination or bullying.

The survey suggests that those already on the specialist register are least likely to consider a move. The intention to leave is more common amongst junior staff.

Doubtless, the responses to an anonymised online survey will overestimate the number of doctors who do eventually make such a move. Nonetheless, this is a concerning analysis.

Although many of the issues are systemic and political, I believe each of us can make a difference during interactions with our colleagues on a day-to-day basis. Conducting our leadership, training and supervisory roles with the same compassion and patience we consider appropriate for patients.

When joining an organisation, we all sign a physical contract but also inadvertently take on an unspoken agreement, something social scientists term a ‘psychological contract’). In its simplest terms, we assume if we work hard and do a good job, our senior colleagues and the organisation will reward us with recognition for our efforts, promotion, training and good working conditions.

The findings of this GMC report, and I suspect the results of the BSH wellbeing survey (of which more at the ASM), are a consequence of a mass breach of our psychological contracts. Restoration of this contract is not only the job of the NHS and employing Trusts but every one of us.

And so it ends. Thank you for entrusting me with the Presidency. Thanks to the Board of Trustees and Officers, whom I have been honoured to lead, and the BSH staff who work with enthusiasm and good humour for the benefit of the profession. Finally, I wish all our members (for the first time, now numbering over 3,000) well for the future.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my two years as President and have learnt much about strategy, Board work, membership organisations, journals and workforce, amongst other things.

I have been constantly impressed by the passion, dedication and vision of the many colleagues I have had contact with. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege.

It is, therefore, with a heavy heart that I shall hand over the keys to the Presidential Palace to Sue Pavord on the final day of the forthcoming ASM. I fully expect that with Sue, Carol Bewick (our CEO), and a strong board of Trustees, our society will continue to go from strength to strength.