30 June 2022

The British Society for Haematology (BSH) has strengthened its links with other haematology societies in recent years.

Work with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) has focused on global health issues. There have been significant collaborations on haemoglobinopathy screening programs in sub-Saharan Africa. And the Health Volunteers Overseas programme has provided BSH members with opportunities to visit healthcare institutions in lower- and middle-income countries.

Our work with the European Hematology Association (EHA) has seen the development of a joint membership package for BSH members allowing access to EHA meetings and educational content.

June 2022 sees another first for the BSH-EHA collaboration with the publication of our first joint guideline. A good practice paper on the use of next-generation sequencing in the diagnosis of rare anaemias. Congratulations to Dr Noemi Roy as first author. Such collaborations are essential for BSH as a relatively small player compared to ASH and EHA.

I wanted to highlight two letters from NHS England (NHSE) regarding booster vaccinations for immunosuppressed patients and new patient cohorts eligible for Covid-19 treatments.

NHSE and NHS Improvement wrote an open letter to immunosuppressed patients encouraging them to come forward for their boosters. A significant number of charity and community leaders signed the letter.

NSHE has written to consultants that need to be contacted about contacting patients who have become newly eligible for COVID-19 treatments. They have also put together a summary table to help consultants identify patients eligible for the treatments.

At the BSH Annual Scientific Meeting, many trainees and consultants completed a short survey to assess the time committed to liaison haematology. It has provided some interesting, though perhaps not surprising, results.

The survey confirms the liaison workload is a significant part of our job as haematologists. Around 20% of respondents provided more than two PAs per week in terms of time taken, yet the vast majority had either no job planned time or a fraction of the time taken to deliver this crucial service.

Thanks to those who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. I hope we can use this to argue the broader role of haematologists as a support speciality. Recognition of this aspect has been lost over recent years, but this information will help as we lobby for increased training numbers.

Finally, this month’s plug for volunteers! I wanted to highlight the work of our Programme Committee.

Ably led by Dr Christopher Dalley, they are a highly productive team of haematologists, trainee doctors, scientists and nurses who develop the ASM schedule. The ASM is the largest annual haematology event in the UK.

The last few years have seen a progressive increase in audience numbers, and we wish to broaden our appeal to other staff working within the MDT, including nurses, physician associates, scientific staff and pharmacists.

It’s a considerable but enjoyable challenge pulling a meeting like this together though much of the hard graft is done by professional conference organisers. We are always looking for new enthusiastic volunteers, and I know education is a passion for many haematologists. The Programme team is seeking a Vice-Chair, so this is a great time to get involved.