24 May 2022

A couple of issues have once again drawn my attention to the workforce. At the risk of beginning to sound like a stuck record on this, my favourite of hobbyhorses, I shall explain. My own department, like many, has its fair share of consultants approaching or at 60. None are yet wandering in disorientated fashion around the hospital (well not that I’ve noticed anyway) and indeed many remain remarkably full of enthusiasm for haematology and medicine in general despite the many pressures our job brings. It was therefore with some disappointment that I received a letter from the BMA with the catchy phrase “It doesn’t pay to stay” highlighted in large letters pointing out that those over 59 years have a considerable financial disincentive for continuing to work. “Retire and return” being the only viable option, though variably instituted by different trusts across the country and not always made attractive or easy. With workforce shortages around the corner, this seems an appalling waste of experience and talent.

Secondly, the Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel requested comments on the progress the Government has made against its commitments around workforce. We have submitted a strong rebuttal highlighting haematology’s plight, which tends to get lost in the wider medical debate. Our conclusion that the Government has made little or no progress against its commitments is undoubtedly correct and I hope the multitude of similar responses the HSCC receives will bring pressure to bear further up the food chain.

On a brighter note, I thought I’d shine a spotlight on some of the opportunities that BSH has to offer its members in the hope that we can encourage new volunteers and participants.

Up first, the Global Heath SIG. Led by the remarkable Professor Imelda Bates, this group offers a wide variety of opportunities and interesting interactions for those at all stages of their career. For anyone who was inspired by the ASM speakers describing how to deliver haematology in a collapsing economy in the Middle East or during a coup in Myanmar, this is the group for you. Ongoing projects include the Plenary speaker scheme where we encourage haematology societies in low resource settings to invite a UK speaker to attend one of their meetings and BSH support costs. We’ve sent members to Ghana, Kenya, Egypt and Thailand amongst other places in the past and this scheme is once again up and running post pandemic so keep your eyes open for opportunities. The SIG has also been providing a very successful virtual CPD seminar series during the pandemic, speakers are always welcome. For those who have a little more time on their hands via the Health Volunteers Overseas Scheme BSH has started to build links with a hospital in Cambodia.

The SIGs provide a great chance to raise your head above the parapet, see healthcare in a different setting, interact with new colleagues and possibly even pack your swimming costume! The SIG welcomes both members and non-members of the BSH and is free to join so please visit our website for more information. Here you go, much more uplifting than a failing government and workforce shortages.